I found a proposal from the article, “Associated Student Body Senate discusses spring legislation goals” published in The DM on Jan. 24, to be appalling. According to the piece, “Sen. Coco McDonnell, chairwoman of the External Affairs Committee, said she plans to possibly introduce legislation that would … allow students to have concealed carry permits for firearms.”
I campaigned against a similar proposal in my home state of Arkansas, and I am against this proposal on our campus for the exact same reasons. On a college campus where civil disagreements in the classroom, dorm room and football stadium can easily boil over, would allowing the presence of lethal weapon make us safer? I argue no.
As seen in the aftermath of the recent school shooting in Kentucky, gun violence has become an epidemic in the United States, but concealed weapons on campus will not make us safer. The Clarion Ledger reports that Mississippi’s gun laws, including requirements for concealed carry permits, are “among the most permissive in the country.” And according to a Violence Policy Center database, concealed carry permit holders across the country have killed 1,119 people since May 2007.
Even if we are to believe the “good guy with a gun” myth, the 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report listed no on-campus robberies, murders or negligent manslaughter reported to UPD in 2016. Even considering the other reported on-campus crimes, aren’t the resources of an armed campus police force more than adequate?
This threat of gun violence has already affected our community. Some may recall the arrest of two members of the Klu Klux Klan during 2015’s “Take Down the Flag” rally. Both men, who had guns in a parked car on campus, later faced federal weapons charges. Under this proposal, from my understanding, students of a similar ideological bent with a Mississippi concealed carry permit would not have faced such charges. If this proposal reaches debate, this is a point I would like Sen. McDonnell to fully address.
To conclude, this proposed legislation is nothing short of dangerous. Not only will it place students at risk, but it also threatens the safety of our university’s faculty, service workers, police and various visitors. I implore the members of the External Affairs Committee, as well as other concerned students, to resist any form of concealed carry legislation introduced through the Associated Student Body.
Dalton Huerkamp is a public policy leadership major from Arkadelphia, Arkansas.