Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Concealed Weapons On Campus – Tragedy In the Making

The late Johnny Cash sang, “Don’t take your guns to town, son. Leave your guns at home….”

I would suspect that the Second Amendment crowd might boycott his music today. Guns on campus are on the Florida legislative fast tract. Florida Senate Bill 176 and House Bill 4005 allow students with concealed weapons permits to carry. Who is against?

John Thrasher, president of Florida State University; the Board of Governors, Florida State University; other university presidents; campus police chiefs; student government associations; the Senate Higher Education Committee; United Faculty of Florida; 78 percent of students surveyed at 15 Midwestern colleges; and the bulk of university professors.

Who supports students carrying concealed firearms?

The NRA, former NRA President Marian Hammer, NRA-supported legislators; and groups typically external to college campuses arguing self-protection and Second Amendment rights.

Most teachers, parents, and anyone wishing to bring sanity to America’s gun culture fear this bill. The finalized bill could be law this summer. Would a parent encourage a child to attend a school with gun-toting students? I wouldn’t.

Conservative legislators deep into NRA pockets will not let their master down without an effective blistering attack by Florida citizens. Guns on campus are a bad idea. Characterized as a Second Amendment issue, bill-friendly legislators claim students have a right to defend themselves. Most professors, college administrators and others in opposition, argue the probability of increased college gun-related violence.

Students may be stressed due to exams, college life, and debt. The odds of hitting the lotto or being struck by lightning are more probable than a shooting on an American campus. Put guns in the hands of untrained collegians and gun incidents, accidents, suicides, and related firearm crimes may increase 10-fold.

Should there be a campus shooting, it is best addressed by trained law enforcement. Armed students might well exacerbate a campus firearm incident. A student pulling a gun to assist can only create confusion and wrongheaded action.

Imagine a library full of youth where several pull guns and start shooting, wrongly interpreting a situation. It will happen. No untrained person should be wielding a weapon — certainly not a student. Permit classes are inadequate. I’ve taken one but it falls well short of the necessary training required for confrontation and sensible response.

What about gun carrying and fraternity life? Will fraternity pranks have new fodder for foolish campus behavior? Perhaps they will require their members to carry. The drinking parties and rah-rah jubilations at campus sporting events do not mix with gun toting and immature behavior. College festivities can be raucous. After all, boys will be boys and girls will be girls.

A survivor of the Virginia Tech killings suggests that if students had been armed the day he was shot, it is likely more students would have been injured or killed in crossfire.

NRA argues more guns on campus will make our colleges safer. NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer raised the specter of fear claiming our campuses are not safe, and students carrying concealed weapons would make them safer. U.S. campuses are very safe. Her conclusion is questionable. Do not forget who she represents.

And then there is “professor danger.” An angry student might reach for a gun upset with a grade. A classroom debate could turn violent. A common argument could result in gunplay. Will college teachers avoid controversial issues so important to the classroom?

An armed campus will be a tense campus. Carrying firearms will detract from the university’s purpose and that is to educate students. Weapons on campus should be in the hands of professionals. Past incidents are terrible but should not be the nidus of extreme legislation.

Dr. Marc Yacht, MD is a semi retired physician living in Hudson, Florida.  This column courtesy of Context Florida.

This piece was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

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