Considering we live in a day in age where fears run amok, it is no surprise a handful of students would want to find better means to protect themselves from the possibility of another Virginia Tech or Northern Illinois shooting incident. Come on, what says deterrent more than a 9mm in the face of a mad gunman? We all want to be heroes.
The big question is, at what point do we view the allowance of guns on campus as protection versus paranoia?
Wednesday the Idaho House of Representatives passed House Bill 222 by a vote of 41-28 to allow card-carrying concealed weapons holders the right to walk through campus strapped and primed to discourage the next gun-toting maniac who decides to start unloading on unsuspecting campus-goers at Boise State University and other institutions of higher learning. Undergraduate students living on campus will not be given the right to carry concealed weapons into their dormitories.
Texas’ Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee moved forward House Bill 750 for vote to allow guns on their campuses, too. Utah currently allows firearms on campuses and in school buildings.
In what has become the typical mode of maneuvering around opposition, Idaho lawmakers have decided to curtail input in-mass in order to push through a bill where the people directly affected — being us students — were completely overlooked, with the exception of top ASBSU officials who offered their input while the bill was in committee. Idaho’s major universities — Boise State University, Idaho State University and University of Idaho — were void of forums entertaining students’ or professors’ thoughts on the matter of guns on campus prior to the bill moving to committee, where it was approved 11-8, and then the House. The Senate will hear thoughts from BSU Security representatives this week before moving to vote.
The House subcommittee heard the thoughts of Boise Police Lieutenant Tony Plott, Campus Security Executive Director Jon Uda, Director of Government Relations Bruce Newcomb and Vice President of General Counsel Kevin Saterlee before voting on the issue.
The paranoia seems to come from thin air according to crime statistics. There have been no shootings on Idaho campuses to prompt such an action. There is no convincing data inferring the allowance of guns on campus is warranted. Eight forcible sex offenses, two aggravated assaults and 49 burglaries were reported during 2009 across all Idaho university and college campuses. The trends from 2007-08 show a drop of criminal activity in these areas.
BSU reported three forcible sex offenses, no aggravated assaults and 10 burglaries during 2009; all showing a drop in trend from 2007-09.
As Idahoans, we pride ourselves on the idealized Western way of independence and the American dream. We love our way of life, which often includes the open use of projectile weaponry. But at some point we must draw a line in the sand — ideally at the boundary of college campuses — where that paranoid state-of-mind is left at the door. There is little to no reason to fear extreme violence at BSU. Previous incidents across the nation have been exceedingly isolated events. They are not a weekly, monthly or even annual occurrence. Guns on campus would very likely become a distraction for students who don’t want them here. Fear from those not carrying firearms has yet to be a pressing issue as of late.
Those with concealed weapons permits are the least likely candidates to shoot up a campus. But their presence isn’t warranted at this point. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.
“The way we see it” is based on the majority opinions of The Arbiter’s editorial board. Members of the board are Bob Beers, editor-in-chief; Kirk Bell, managing editor; Haley Robinson, opinion editor; Karey Hoke, assistant opinion editor; Andrew Ford, news editor; Suzanne Craig, assistant news editor; Rebecca De León, culture editor; Lauren Hooker, assistant culture editor; and Jessica Swider, assistant online editor.