Washington area college students have mixed feelings about the proposed legislation by state Sen. Karen Johnson (R – AZ) to allow students and staff at public colleges and universities to carry concealed weapons on campus.
“Didn’t anyone remember Columbine, Virginia Tech?” Matthew Alston, a student at American University asked. “Anyone that can even address putting a gun into someone’s hand after these two events (and several other shootings that are never reported nor heard) and support it is not worthy to hold an office. I’ll even go so far as to say that they shouldn’t call themselves ‘A Concerned Woman for America’, being so unfamiliar with this country’s history of guns and violence,” he said.
Other students feel it is their constitutional right to carry guns, no matter where they are. “The constitution states ‘…the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,’ period,” Renee Riffe of Georgetown University said. “If you can own a weapon, you should be able to carry it anywhere you go,” she said.
Joytrese George, a Howard University student, said the thought of sitting next to an armed classmate makes her uneasy. “I wouldn’t feel too safe,” she said. She continued, “Although students may be armed for self defense, the probability of shootings occurring over minor disputes would be heightened.”
As the one-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting passes, proponents of the bill argue that such tragedies could be prevented if students and faculty are armed.
Johnson’s initial intention was for her bill to cover all public schools, from kindergarten up, but she was convinced by fellow legislators that the likelihood of such a bill being made into law was slim to none.
“I feel like our kindergartners are sitting there like sitting ducks,” Sen. Johnson said in February when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved her bill.
Riffe agrees with Sen. Johnson that a campus of armed students would prevent mass shootings. “If the students and professors at Virginia Tech had been carrying weapons, [the shooter, Seung- Hui Cho] would not have been able to kill and injure so many people,” she said. “They were all defenseless. I believe that if students were allowed to carry concealed weapons, mass shootings could be prevented.”
Some students don’t buy Johnson’s theory that more guns on campus would prevent violence. “I personally feel sorry for her as a ‘conservative republican that supports the unborn’s right to life and a swift death penalty,’ Alston said. “Hmm . . . Did I mention she wants people to kill each other?”
Opponents of the bill say other measures should be taken to make college campuses safe. George said, “They should increase the security presence on campus. She continued, “Certified and trained security professionals should be the ones with the guns on campus.”
Alston says education is the key to preventing gun violence in this country. “If people were taught about guns and how they’re destroying society, do you think people would need automatic rifles to go hunting on a college campus?”