Campus shootings are a horror that are unfortunately becoming a common occurrence in today’s society. Within 2015 alone, there have been 53 campus shootings across the country, killing 30 and injuring 53 people, according to The Kansas City Star. There are multiple schools of thought on how we can overcome this problem: increased gun control, improved treatment of mental health issues or fighting fire with fire by making it easier to defend oneself with a gun. This is the option that Wisconsin lawmakers want to make a reality on University of Wisconsin campuses, with state Rep. Jesse Kremer,R-Kewaskum, and Sen. Devin LeMahieu, D-Rostburg, proposing a bill to the state Senate that would allow students and faculty to conceal carry weapons on campus.
The issue of violence and mass shootings in this country is one that needs to be addressed. However, would allowing students to carry guns on campus actually decrease the chances of further gun violence, or would it lead to further tragedy? While many students purchase a firearm with the best of intentions, those intentions can disappear in the blink of an eye. If students were allowed to conceal carry weapons, the number of accidental shootings could increase. According to Harvard University professor of public health David Hemenway, 1,100 accidental shootings occur across the United States each year. Not all gun owners are adequately trained on how to use their weapons; a student could easily mistake whether or not their weapon was rendered safe, or whether it was loaded. Such mistakes could lead to massive repercussions, such as the accidental death of the owner themselves or other innocent bystanders.
Also, there is no guarantee that students who have concealed weapons are adequately trained to use them in high- pressure situations. Learning how to use a gun is one thing, but reacting to an emergency is an entirely different situation. According to a study conducted by Time magazine, New York City Police Department officers shot assailants with only 18 percent accuracy in a firefight. Despite the fact that these officers were trained and prepared with how to act in dangerous situations and are extremely familiar with how to use their weapons, they still shoot with frightening inaccuracy. Young students who are untrained in how to react to such situations may react with panic and fear, leading them to use their gun in an irresponsible and dangerous way, potentially causing harm to those they didn’t intend to.
Additionally, we must look at intentions and motives of the Wisconsin lawmakers trying to spearhead this bill. For example, Kremer, a 59th Assembly District Representative, was elected to public office for the first time this summer. However, some of his main donors and supporters are the National Rifle Association and the U.S. Concealed Carry Association. Is his insistence on concealed carry laws for Wisconsin students rooted in hopes that students will be better able to defend themselves against violence, or is he simply trying to appeal to the current and future sponsors of his political career? Just how much is he actually concerned with the welfare of students and faculty?
As a society, we need to rethink how we should deal with the increased occurrences of mass shootings. However, while we are in pursuit of solutions to this issue, the option to concealed carry a firearm on campus is not the answer. Instead of promising a safer environment where students would be prepared to defend themselves against attackers, it would in fact lead to more tragedy.
Samantha is a freshman intending to major in journalism. How do you feel about concealed carry on campus? Send us a comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.