By Ashley Davis
I’ve never been a big fan of guns — at least, not in real life. In movies, they’re exciting, dangerous and (dare I say it) sexy. In terms of media and the ideals guns symbolize (i.e. freedom, protection, power), it’s easy for someone to be a gun enthusiast in theory. America’s love for guns in the media has only strengthened the impression that Americans are aggressive, violent and power-hunger in every aspect of life. As individuals we know this isn’t true.
Unfortunately, history has taught us that the reality of guns put to whatever use, whether it be in self-defense or in an offensive attack, on the screen or in reality, is a terrifying and often fatal experience. This has proved true for many college campuses recently and in past years.
In light of recent events I have found myself (a black conservative) willing to declare my support for a bill allowing concealed handgun license owners to carry their weapons on campus. One of these gun owners could end up being my hero.
Monday will be the fifth anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings that killed 32 people and wounded many more. The recent shooting at Oikos University in California, which killed seven people, has only added more fuel to the fire. After taking these and other similar events into account, I can no longer put this issue on the back burner. Neither should Baylor University.
Last spring Brent Johns, a contributor to the Lariat, argued against Resolution 58-09, a bill that would allow students with concealed handgun licenses to carry their weapons on campus. It was struck down in the Senate by a marginal lack of support. Johns argued that implementing the bill would defy Baylor’s Christian mission and exploit the fear students already have of living in Waco.
In response I say college students, in general, have a justified fear of violent crime, especially Baylor students considering the number of robberies that have taken place in the past year near campus. The argument is correct that colleges campuses are emotionally volatile environments.
I’m talking about only accommodating qualified license holders here, not a vigilante horde of bloodthirsty students willing to take the law into their own hands or settle their tuition cowboy-style.
After the Virginia Tech shooting, the state and government laws regarding the process of getting a concealed handgun license have been under intense scrutiny and have integrated improvements in states, such as Virginia, where vigorous psychological screening and the evaluation of records was lacking.
Those of us who support concealed carry on campus aren’t endorsing the militarization of campus and we’re not trying to supplant the university security measures already in place. We would just like the same chance to protect ourselves, and possibly others in the event of an extreme case such as the UT sniper in 1966, the Virginia Tech shooter in 2007 and the most recent shooter at Oikos University in California.
As for undermining Baylor’s mission, Johns missed the mark entirely. It’s not us, but “the crazies” that would defy Baylor’s Christian values of “peace, knowledge, understanding and love” once someone decided to go postal. I hate to say it, but the buildings on Baylor’s campus are no more holy than the McDonald’s restaurant across the street.
If we’ve learned anything at Baylor, being exposed to a surprising amount of religious diversity, it’s that holiness isn’t a place, it’s a state of being. God forbid, if it so happens that students are left to face the wrath of someone’s suicidal emotional breakdown, I’m sure Baylor’s mission will be of great comfort when they are bunkered down in classrooms and offices, lives for the taking.
The boundary that separates Baylor from the rest of the world doesn’t protect students from a lunatic with a gun any more than an umbrella stops the rain from falling. It’s okay to trust in the safeguards Baylor already has in place. What’s one more on top of that? In terms of probability, these situations are certainly rare. And yet they’ve happened several times. These events weren’t flukes, either. They were calculated massacres — all the more reason to consider that sliver of possibility a real threat. How many more college students have to die before we can prove that we should be able to protect ourselves like the rest of society?
Ashley Davis is a junior journalism major from Killeen and is the Lariat’s news editor.