Campus carry laws have been gaining more traction as people continue to debate this controversial issue. The question at hand pertains to whether or not students and faculty should be allowed to bring firearms onto campus, into dorms, and into classrooms. So far, responses to the issue have varied greatly.
Many southern and Midwestern states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin already have legislation mandating that public universities must allow firearms on campus. Georgia is considering adopting such laws, and several other states leave the decision up to each individual university.
Within each state, the limitations of the law vary. Some states, such as Texas, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Arkansas allow firearms in classrooms. Utah and Arkansas (as of next year) let students have guns in dorms.
The implications of this law have reverberated throughout campuses across the nation. The national Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus has over 400 universities supporting the cause to keep schools gun-free. However, proponents of the law argue that arming more capable civilian bodies on campuses will prevent future attacks from occurring.
In a speech to graduating students of Liberty University, Wayne LaPierre, leader of the pro-campus carry organization Students for Campus Carry, argued, “The hard facts are, we can’t predict where evil may strike—the next campus, the next church, the next shopping mall or airport. And if God forbid a monster should walk onto this campus, that evil will be met with the one indisputable fact of liberty: that the surest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
This justification for the campus carry movement has resonated with many. But, when looking at the idea holistically, many question if it’s value outweighs the risks. In an eye-opening opinion piece for the New Yorker by associate professor Minkah Makalani, who teaches in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin, he argues that allowing firearms would hinder open discussion of controversial issues or differing beliefs on these campuses.
“Many of us entered the profession without knowing that we would have to consider whether a student who is upset about his grade, uncomfortable with a lecture on black queer sexuality, or disagrees with our placing slavery and white supremacy at the center of American history might have a gun holstered on his waist. We chose our profession believing that, while we might encounter resistance to new ideas, we could safely push our students to think more deeply about their inherited beliefs and assumptions.”
Higher learning is meant to enrich the mind, and open students from all backgrounds with varying beliefs to new ideas and conceptions. With guns in the picture, this open discussion will be suppressed. Giving students and faculty the opportunity to carry firearms will leave schools more susceptible to attacks. I myself will be attending college soon, and to think that a student sitting next to me in class may have a gun holstered to his waist is a frightening notion. We can only hope that campus carry does not backfire on the states and universities that permit it.