We are at that point in time again where a school shooting has left the nation in disbelief. Over the past few weeks, the heightened fear of students nationwide wondering if a shooting could happen at their school is indeed a legitimate one. However, politicians and college administrators, especially the Faculty Senate at FGCU, are seeking the wrong solutions to this epidemic.
First of all, we must all agree that in the past 10 years, all the school shootings that have taken place across the country have one thing in common: they were all in gun-free zones. Sandy Hook Elementary, by definition, is a gun-free school. Weeks before the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, the student government at VT passed an ordinance banning the concealed carry of weapons on campus. All public and private colleges and universities in the state of Florida prohibit the concealed carry of weapons on campus. Yet, the shooting last November at Florida State University and the 2013 bomb scare at the University of Central Florida still took place. After noticing this disturbing trend, I must ask: Why are we still in denial?
The most common arguments I hear against campus carry are solely based on assumptions, fear and paranoia. Sadly, students agree with these thoughts but do not elaborate with facts or statistics as to why they believe campus carry should not be allowed. “I believe it (guns) would make the campus even more vulnerable and unsafe” is one such argument. Let me remind you all that the word “concealed” is there for a reason. If campus carry were allowed here, how would you know that someone in your class was carrying a firearm? It is no different than wondering if a person has an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S6. Besides, the population of individuals legally able to conceal carry a firearm is so small (1 to 3 percent) that it would not be any different than the number of people carrying a firearm at the movies or at the mall. We must get rid of the notion that all the students at FGCU will be carrying guns to school. That could not be further from the truth.
“Schools are supposed to be a place where students feel safe and protected.” Yes, I believe that as well, but this trend is happening too often for that claim to hold true. More than 200 colleges across the nation allow concealed carry by licensed individuals, and we never hear of incidents taking place at those campuses. The shootings always seem to happen where there are no guns. Why is this important? It is because shooters know full well that they will not encounter armed resistance at a gun-free school, aside from the campus police department. However, the response times of the campus police are too long in order to effectively subdue an assailant. To put this into perspective, the Sandy Hook shooting was over in roughly 4 1/2 minutes; the police arrived with reinforcements in four minutes. You cannot logically admit that you would rather wait for the police in an active-shooter event. The only thing that stops bad guys with guns is good guys with guns. That is just the sad reality of it.
“To me, being able to bring a concealed weapon to campus makes the place even more dangerous. Nowadays, you never know who could be feeling a little off and just want to shoot at something.” This too cannot be further from the truth. Numerous warning signs accompany a person’s downward spiral to violence, as evidenced by a Secret Service study from 2000. Look at the shooters of Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook: both were socially disconnected and were troubled mentally. The bad thing is the fact that they were able to get ahold of guns and kill many people. Yes, it is a mental issue, but it is also not a gun issue. We need to do more to help those with mental troubles and psychological problems. Getting rid of guns as a result is as effective as putting tape over the “check engine” light in your car. The problem is still there and unsolved. Troubled individuals will find a way to inflict harm on fellow students. Relinquishing the right to selfdefense is not a viable option anymore.
Getting a gun, let alone a concealed carry permit, is not as easy as it sounds. Licensed individuals have to go through many steps to attain a license for concealed carry. They need to know all the laws of gun ownership. They need to spend hours on the range refining their marksmanship. They need to train to have the reflexes to react in a life-or-death situation. Plus, once they are eligible for the license, they need to go through an FBI background check and an application review that takes several months. Buying a gun also has a cool-down period of about four days. That includes another comprehensive FBI background check. Obviously, gun owners and licensees are incredibly disciplined when it comes to their right to carry. So they are allowed to carry virtually anywhere else publicly. Why should that right be relinquished when they enter a classroom? They do not let their emotions take control over them elsewhere, so the same is expected here on campus.
One thought that troubled me greatly from the previous op-ed article on campus carry is the notion that we need to make getting guns “a difficult task.” I only ask: a difficult task for who? Criminals hold no regard for the law and the various legal processes concerning guns to begin with, so passing more gun regulations will not make a difference to them; it will just make their crime a lot easier to commit. I hate to sound insensitive, but this rationale is very flawed. We cannot keep blaming and restricting guns for the actions of deranged individuals. Even if you did take guns out of the equation, wouldn’t they use something more devastating? What if they brought a bomb? If so, what good did getting rid of guns do? We need to fight back with equal force because equal force is just what the campus police happen to have. We have a right to our life, and we must protect it at all costs. The campus police cannot protect all of FGCU’s students, like it or not.
The poll for campus carry on Eagle News is evidence of the change in public opinion on this issue. Yes, people will still feel that is dangerous and unnecessary, but we cannot please everyone. The facts are there. The statistics are tried and true. We need to fight fire with fire because it is a fundamental, enumerated right to defend our lives in the face of evil. I cannot say that allowing campus carry will prevent all shootings, but if we allow it, it will make the victim selection process a lot more difficult.
– Miguel Azcuy, junior, Health Sciences / pre-physician assistant