The ongoing debate regarding campus carry legislation has been at the forefront of recent policy agendas concerning campus safety.
This legislation has been a controversial response to the horrific school shootings that have resulted in the death of some of our nation’s bright, young students.
Needless to say, there are individuals who feel strongly on both sides of the debate.
Some people feel that guns on campus could deter crime and provide a more immediate response time. However, when it comes to allowing lethal weapons on college campuses, one must seriously consider the risks involved.
These risks are what prompted FGCU’s Faculty Senate to come to a unanimous decision for upholding its stance against allowing firearms on campus.
FGCU professor Sandra Pavelka, the restorative justice expert and the vice president of Faculty Senate, is in opposition of legislation that would allow licensed individuals to carry a concealed handgun on university campuses.
“Research has shown that concealed carry does not curb crime, sexual assault or shootings on college campuses,” Pavelka said. “For instance, data found that concealed carry in or near college campuses in Utah and Colorado increased crime. Rape increased by 11 percent in Colorado and 50 percent in Utah. Accidental shootings increased as well.”
Allowing students and faculty members who are not part of law enforcement to carry guns around the FGCU campus is a frightening thought.
I can already imagine confrontations turning lethal, students feeling uncomfortable as they sit in class wondering if their classmates have guns on their hips as safety ultimately becomes diluted because security is left up to private citizens rather than trained professionals.
“University and college campuses are safe learning environments for students, faculty, staff and visitors,” Pavelka said. “Concealed weapons will interrupt and distract this learning environment by changing our campus culture from one of safety and security to one of fear and concern. More guns equal more risk because weapons belong in the hands of the university police — professionals trained to respond to harm and violence.”
It’s important to note that having concealed firearms on FGCU’s campus would distract students and teachers from the educational environment.
We are at FGCU to learn, research, discuss and collaborate with people from all walks of life. This noble pursuit will be disrupted if we allow guns on campus because our gun-free classrooms are intended to foster a stable and non-threatening environment.
This leaves absolutely no place for guns unless in the hands of law enforcement officers.
Pavelka believes that the key to tackling violence in schools is addressing the root of the problem rather than attempting to devise a short-term solution.
“The best response is prevention,” Pavelka said. “I strongly urge the Florida Legislature and legislatures across our country to take this time to invest in prevention and intervention including substance abuse and mental health programs in schools and in communities. It is my hope that our legislators will listen to our plea and the plea of our colleagues and vote against this proposed legislation.”
Ultimately, it is clear that the answer to bullets flying is not more bullets flying.
I am cautiously optimistic that FGCU students and faculty will stand up for our university’s wellbeing by voicing their resistance to any legislation that furthers the proposal for campus carry.