When things happen across the country, you don’t always see them as real things. They’re something far, far away from me, and I’ll never be affected by them, right?
Then something happened at two schools that I keep dear to my heart, schools attended by several friends that I had considered attending myself. That’s when this became real.
There have been 95 school shootings around the United States since Sandy Hook, according to the Huffington Post in an article posted last December — now 96 after last week’s shooting. In November, Florida State University suffered a tragic shooting. Three were injured, one killed. This week, a homicide-suicide occurred at the University of South Carolina. Two dead.
It can happen anywhere because it is happening everywhere.
Now it’s here. It’s a real thing to which we need to react. State Rep. Greg Steube recently filed a bill that would allow students with firearms licenses to carry concealed weapons on campuses across the state.
If this passes, guns could legally be carried across campus by next fall.
I won’t lie — guns are a bit unnerving and no doubt make a lot of us uncomfortable with the thought that the student sitting next to us in our biology class could be carrying a weapon.
But what happens when the doors bust open and bullets start flying? Are we going to be left defenseless, or will we have a fighting chance? Will there be an opportunity to stop a tragedy? In that moment, what would you rather have?
Gun violence in this country is at an astonishingly high and gun-free zones are the most targeted areas.
I think there is so much controversy against guns because people are afraid of the unknown. There’s a cultural stigma against guns — legal or not — because of so many tragedies. Guns are scary and I think that’s the problem.
If guns become more normal, if the media shows other people besides bad guys and cops carrying around guns, that fear will diminish.
Let’s look at good ol’ Switzerland. In Switzerland, basically everyone has a gun, and according to Time magazine, “Because of this general acceptance and even pride in gun ownership, nobody bats an eye at the sight of a civilian riding a bus, bike or motorcycle to the shooting range, with a rifle slung across the shoulder.”
Plus Switzerland’s crime rate is fairly low. According to NationMaster.com, the United States’ rate of murders with firearms is three times more than Switzerland. If guns become an integrated and respected part of society (the gun, not the gun holder), like in Switzerland, including the presence of legally owned firearms will decrease the rate of shootings in schools.
The key word, though, is respect.
Guns are not a toy; they’re something that has more power than most of us really comprehend. In an instant, everything can change.
I’ve seen a family friend and a family member both lose their lives as a result of a legally owned firearm. One was a young boy who had managed to get ahold of his father’s firearm and was showing it to a friend. He was 10 years old.
Two responsible gun owners, two lives lost.
As long as guns are around, there will be accidents. Just like as long as we drive cars, we’ll see devastating car crashes.
Whether you find yourself on the opposing side or an advocate for concealed carry on campus, there’s one thing we can all agree on: Something needs to change.