Would you feel safe if your university allowed students to carry guns on campus? Last year for my composition class, I researched whether allowing guns on college campuses affects students' learning experience in depth all semester long. That being said, this is a subject over which I have developed a strong opinion. I currently attend Tulsa Community College, and I'm looking to transfer to a university to further my education next fall. And personally, I know that if a university allowed students to carry firearms, it would affect my decision on whether or not I would attend. I know that enforcing gun regulations is a sensitive topic of discussion that is surrounded by much controversy, and I'm fully aware that not everyone will agree with my perspective. However, as a current college student, I feel it's necessary to shed some light on this topic and place emphasis on the consequences that could follow.
Discussing whether or not allowing students to carry guns on campus inhibits students’ and professors’ freedom of speech is a controversial topic. Many people believe that students should be allowed to carry guns on campus because the right is given to them under the Second Amendment. However, others argue that guns limit students’ First Amendment rights and all-around learning experience. According to this view, concealed weapons can cause professors to censor their material and students to feel they cannot express their feelings about controversial issues. Allowing guns on college campuses is tampering with students’ all around learning experience and limiting their First Amendment rights.
Students should not be afraid to express their thoughts and opinions on controversial issues in the classroom. College is the ultimate learning experience. But Jennifer Sinor, author of “Guns on Campus Have Already Curtailed Free Speech”, is right when she states that students who attend universities that allow concealed weapons on campus “could easily be receiving a less challenging, less provocative, and less varied experience” (2). If students attend a college that allows guns on campus, they might fear challenging another person’s viewpoint on a subject in the classroom. The classroom is a safe place to learn from and listen to others perspectives on issues. Bringing guns into an academic setting makes it feel unsafe, and students may find it more intimidating to express their thoughts and opinions, especially if their view differs from the majority. You never know what is going to set someone off; and if that person has a gun in his or her pocket, or backpack, it could result in a deadly situation.
Allowing concealed weapons on campus also causes professors to feel unsafe teaching controversial course material. Sinor states in her article that administrators tend to “censor themselves” in “less visible” ways (2). Professors who teach at universities that allow students to carry guns on campus tend to omit course material that they feel could offend or upset any student. This omission of course material lessens the variation of topics that professors feel comfortable teaching students, and as a result hinders students’ learning experience. Class discussions over controversial issues are excellent learning experiences for students. Debating over controversial issues can help students learn to form their own opinions on these topics, and can help them take away new knowledge from perspectives of their peers. These experiences also prepare students for real world situations by helping them learn to become better listeners, even when they don't agree with the perspectives of their peers, and teach them how to react accordingly.
A major struggle colleges are facing is how to keep their campuses safe without infringing on students’ rights. According to the article “Could It Happen Here?” written by Jaclyn Schildkraut, after Columbine, many people were pushing for stronger safety regulations in schools (96). If campuses are going to continue allowing students to carry concealed weapons on campus, many advocate that the schools need to expand safety measures to protect students in worst-case scenario situations. For example, many argue that armed security should be present on college campuses to expand student safety. Although this may be true, I believe a better solution to keeping universities across the United States safe is by forbidding students to carry guns on campus grounds.
Though I concede that people have the right to bear arms, I still maintain that guns could be an enormous safety hazard on college campuses. Although some might object that school shootings could occur whether a rule against guns on campus existed or not, I would reply that a good start to preventing these occurrences in the future is to implement a rule forbidding the carry of concealed weapons on college campuses. Students should never fear for their life while they are in an academic setting. School shootings have almost become a common occurrence in today’s society, and I wholeheartedly believe that if stronger gun regulations were in place that the chances of these events happening would be significantly lower. School shootings are not covered in the media as much as they should be, and America needs to see this is a “national concern” (Sinor 2). This is a point that needs emphasizing since so many people seem to believe that allowing students to carry guns on campus is a good idea. Ultimately, what is at stake here is the safety of college students all across the United States.
In my own view, the possible consequences of allowing concealed weapons on college campuses outweigh any benefits. Allowing students to carry guns on campus gives them the power to control anything they do not agree with by making a single threat. At first glance, people might say that students have the right under the Second Amendment to carry concealed weapons. But on closer inspection I believe that they would realize guns would cause more harm than good in an academic setting. Guns cause students to feel unsafe sharing their thoughts and opinions over disputable issues, and cause professors to feel unsafe teaching controversial course material. Allowing students to carry concealed weapons on campus and in classrooms hinders the all around learning experience that college provides students with. While it is true that legally students do have the right to bear arms, it does not necessarily follow that guns are safe and acceptable to carry on college campuses.
Schildkraut, Jaclyn, H. Jaymi Elsass, and Mark C. Stafford. "Could It Happen Here? Moral Panic, School Shootings, and Fear of Crime among College Students." Crime, Law and Social Change: An Interdisciplinary Journal 63.1-2 (2015): 91-110. Print.
Sinor, Jennifer. “Guns on Campus Have Already Curtailed Free Speech.” Chronicle of Higher Education 61.10 (2014): 2. Academic Search Premier. Web. 22 July 2015.