Gun control policies
Should carrying firearms be allowed on Utah State’s campus?
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 13:02
By Steve Kent
editor in chief
What would happen if USU students were allowed to carry firearms? They already are. Look around you. The bedlam you see — students holding the door open for others, people saying sorry after they bump into you in a crowded hallway — this chaos is underscored by the fact that some students are carrying firearms. Last December, the Utah Department of Safety reported more than 400,000 valid state concealed-carry permits. Even if you can’t think of a friend who carries a firearm on campus, chances are good that an acquaintance or someone you see in the hall is carrying.
Should we panic? No. The majority of gun owners are responsible, careful citizens. Some anti-gun crusaders paint every gun owner as an adolescent with a cowboy complex, but in my experience, the opposite is true.
Multiple times over the past few years, I’ve had discussion about gun safety with friends, coworkers and even relatives and learned that my conversation partner was carrying a concealed weapon right then. If we weren’t talking specifically about gun safety, I never would have known they were carrying. They didn’t wear silver revolvers on their hips, they didn’t wave their guns in the air. They were humble — they knew they carried a device designed to take lives, and they treated it with the kind of respect you never see in Hollywood.
These gun owners are obviously not the type of person a gun-free campus is meant to keep out. Far too many tragedies occur when mentally unstable people — through legal or illegal means — take weapons to crowded areas, but time has proven that if dangerous people want to smuggle guns into crowded areas, a “gun-free zone” sign won’t stop them. The Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and Aurora, Colo. shootings all happened in gun-free zones. Nearly all campus shootings do.
A gun-free campus is nothing more than a false sense of security. Unless you’re willing to wait in a line and walk through a metal detector to enter campus, a change to firearm policy won’t make us more secure.
Rather than stick our heads in the sand by enacting a campus-wide gun ban, we should focus on a more effective preventive measure: education. Faculty, staff and students should know the warning signs of an attack. A university course about firearm safety could benefit those who carry weapons — and even those who object to firearms on campus — by dispelling myths and providing a mediated forum for civil discussion.
USU is — and should be — a place where people feel safe. The fact that some responsible, respectful members of our community choose to carry firearms for defense shouldn’t detract from that feeling of security.
By Brianne Palmer
College is the time where young adults can run amuck and embrace their primal beings, reminding us all that “you only live once.” From harassing basketball teams with the face of Justin Bieber to flying down Old Main Hill in grocery carts, it is clear that maturity is somewhat lacking on campus. These are the citizens we are entrusting with lethal weapons?
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, this lack of maturity is partially due to the undeveloped prefrontal cortex of the brain, fully developed at the age of 25, responsible for impulse control or “good judgment” — an important quality when handling a lethal weapon and often deficient in the college atmosphere.
The average age of a USU student is 22.3 years old, meaning the majority of students on campus are strutting around with undeveloped brains and uncontrolled impulses with the ability to carry a gun, proving more menacing than the face of Bieber.
We cannot counteract the general biology of the population, therefore such weapons should not be allowed in an area occupied by students with these reckless impulses.
Such adolescent folly doesn’t appear in the mandatory criminal history and background checks in order to purchase a gun in the state of Utah, nor does the law mention a psychological test to predict the stability and competence of the gun holder allowing unskilled and unprepared gun owners to wander our streets and sled down Old Main armed and dangerous.
Despite the crazed atmosphere encircling college towns, Logan is the fourth most secure place to live in the small town category in the United States, thus minimizing the need to carry firearms on campus and providing a safe haven for such youthful shenanigans.
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, less than one percent of the U.S. population has reported defensive gun use, or DGU. It seems more likely to sled into the street at the bottom of Old Main than to have to report a DGU in the sleepy town of Logan where the most frequent crime violations are dogs that bark obnoxiously.