College Rights vs. Gun Rights
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Intoduction to Criminal Law Research Paper
In states like Texas and Colorado, college students could be allowed to carry concealed guns within the college premises. Arguably, this move will improve safety within the colleges because the students can protect themselves from unlicensed gun owners. Secondly, arming the students will help to save lives in the cases of external shooting. On the other hand, this move will have chilling effects among the students. Therefore, guns may be used for unintended purposes. This paper takes the position that college students should not be allowed to be armed on campus.
Students Should be Allowed to be Armed on Campus
Allowing the students to be armed on campus will affect the concept of a healthy learning environment. One the one hand, the safety of the students is a critical issue in creating a healthy learning environment (Siebel, 2007). Furthermore, even though students will be allowed to be armed, it does not mean all students will manage to have a handgun. Therefore, whether the guns will be concealed or carried openly, those students that will not be armed will not feel comfortable. On a further note, a healthy learning environment involves a free participation of all students in controversial topics (Fox & Savage, 2009). However, the law to allow students to be armed within the classroom will interfere with the freedom of expression. Some students may choose not to be involved in a discussion because of possible retaliation from an armed student. As a result, the presence of handguns among the students will restrain an effective exchange of ideas, which is an important aspect of learning (Siebel, 2007).
Secondly, the introduction of guns in colleges will increase additional risks for the students. Notably, most campuses face risks associated with alcoholism and drug abuse, mental problems, and physical assaults among the students (Siebel, 2007). Consequently, allowing students to be armed will lead to other risks such as gun thefts and killings both intentional and accidental. Of major concern is the increasing number of students who use substances such as alcohol and other drugs. Often, there is a close association between substance abuse and violent crimes (Fox & Savage, 2009). Most of the students accused of violent crimes admit that they were under the influence of alcohol when they committed the offence. On a wider scope, this means that armed students are more likely to be involved in criminal activities because they believe their personal security is guaranteed. For instance, armed students are more likely to be involved in drug abuse, driving under the influence of alcohol, and physical assaults (Siebel, 2007).
On the other hand, cases of mental problems such as depression and suicidal attempts are substantial issues among college students. There are a significant number of students who have been reported to have attempted to take their own lives. This means that when students facing such issues get access to guns, the consequences can be more lethal (Fox & Savage, 2009). It is easier for a student to pull the trigger than taking an overdose of drug when faced with suicidal thoughts. In addition, considering the reality that most of college dormitories are small, this issue creates an additional risk of accidental shooting. Due to the limited space, it may be challenging to keep the gun safely, which increases the risk of it being stolen by unauthorized persons (Siebel, 2007).
The proponents argue that armed students will have better defense mechanism in cases such as mass shooting. The lobby groups are concerned that the perpetrators of mass shooting target zones such as campuses that do not allow students to carry firearms (Fox & Savage, 2009). Ideally, the shooters are confident that they will not receive significant resistance in their mission. However, allowing the students to be armed within the campus premises will not play a significant role in deterring these criminals. These ideas ignore the fact that most of these events are suicidal. That is, the shooters embark on the killings with full knowledge that they are likely to die too. Their mission is to kill as many people as possible (Fox & Savage, 2009). These criminals would still attack even when the students are armed.
For instance, they can launch the attacks when the students are in the classrooms or at midnight when they are asleep. In this case, the presence of armed students will not bear measurable outcomes. Moreover, most of the gun owners within the college are not as trained as the criminals are (Siebel, 2007). Therefore, even if they may have the opportunity to engage in crossfire with the attackers, it is likely that there will be a higher number of student casualties. Interestingly, the attackers may provoke the gun owners in crowded areas such as dining halls with the intention of increasing the number of victims during the crossfire (Fox & Savage, 2009).
Another concern that relates to opposing the move to allow students to be armed on campus is the realization that all gun holders are not always law-abiding individuals. In addition, there are no clear standards set in place to determine the eligibility of the applicants. The only basic requirement requires the student to pass a check through the NICS (Siebel, 2007). The purpose of this check is to ascertain whether the applicant has been prohibited to carry a gun by the federal law. Those applicants with history of felony convictions will be denied to carry guns. However, this check misses out important aspects (Fox & Savage, 2009). For instance, it does not assess the mental status of the student and other issues like alcoholism. Moreover, all cases of felony in different states are not always reported to the NICS.
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In other words, a student may pass the NICS but if other assessments would accompany this check, it is likely that the same applicant would be disqualified. More to say, such applicants may have a record for other criminal activities or a history for mental problems (Fox & Savage, 2009). This means that there is the potential for an unknown criminal to qualify as a permitted gun owner. When the firearm is in hands of these criminals, then the safety of other students and other faculty members is at risk. When such students are armed, it becomes relatively easier for them to engage in offenses such as murder, rape, and robbery (Siebel, 2007).
Perhaps, one of the alarming concerns for having armed students on campus is the fact that the applicant is not required to undergo any formal training. Surprisingly, many States do not even require the applicant to fire his or her weapon to demonstrate basic competency with the firearm (Fox & Savage, 2009). For example, in Virginia, a class session for four hours is sufficient to meet the required state training for applicants. Therefore, considering the training required for law enforcement officers, arming the student means more risk than safety.
Cases of accidental shooting will increase because untrained applicants can rarely hit their targets. Moreover, in cases of responding to a single attacker, more than one student may fire their handguns (Siebel, 2007). Since they are not trained on how to open fire effectively, it is possible that such a situation will increase the number of casualties more than a single attacker could have caused. It is also rare that the armed students can successfully shoot or kill criminals. On the other hand, law enforcement officers usually respond to attacks launched against students. However when they arrive at the scene to find multiple students with handguns, it will be chaotic to identify the attackers (Fox & Savage, 2009).
In conclusion, there are lobby groups that support the idea to allow college student to be armed. They argue that it will increase the safety of the students in cases of external attacks. Armed students will use their firearms to improve their personal safety in the events such as mass shooting and physical assault. However, campuses are learning environments where the presence of students carrying handguns would be a barrier to a healthy school environment. Students who are not armed will not feel comfortable around those permitted to carry guns. Moreover, having more guns on campus does not mean that the suicide attackers and mass shooters will be deterred from launching their attacks. These are criminals who are trained to accomplish their mission to cause as many casualties as possible. They are also aware that most of the students do not have significant training in the use of their handguns.
Secondly, States that allow guns on campus ignore the fact that not all applicants are law-abiding citizens. The basic check is not enough to establish other underlying issues. Therefore, this paper takes a position that college students should not be allowed to be armed. The authority should allow trained law enforcement officer to provide security for campus students. This is a significant way to reduce cases of accidental shootings and other crimes committed by students armed with guns.