The great debate on weapons policy

Next time you’re on campus, you may notice these stickers on all buildings a bit more. PC: Zach Morrison

Next time you’re on campus, you may notice these stickers on all buildings a bit more. PC: Zach Morrison

Many of us recall how last month Union College had an unfortunate event that ended in a student banned, one of the reasons being for owning and keeping a gun on campus territory.  

According to the Union student handbook, “Weapons such as firearms, explosives, BB or pellet guns, 3-inch or longer knives, lasers or other weapons are not allowed at Union College and are to be left at home. These items will be confiscated when found in a student’s possession, and the local authorities may be involved.”

Now, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, eight states now have provisions allowing for carrying of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses. A call for self-defense has increased– and for good reason. According to the 2015 report from the “Crime Prevention Center” having a concealed carry has reduced murder rates from 5.6 to 4.2 per 100,000 and overall violent crimes by 25 percent between the years 2007-2014. Also, cities such as Chicago exist where gun laws are some of the strictest in the country, yet their crime rates rank among the highest in the U.S.

The question becomes, what effect does banning concealed carry on campus really have?

When asked about the zero-weapon policy here, senior theology major David Kabanje thought it would be better for designated faculty to have concealed carry. Of course, said faculty would have to go through proper training and background checks in order to carry, but perhaps there should be someone able to protect themselves as well as students in case of an emergency.

As with any argument, there’s always a flip-side; the cons of allowing concealed carry on campus.

The possibility of having a fatal accidental discharge by allowing weapons on campus (in opposition to prohibiting them) quite literally jumps from impossible to bound-to-happen. A study conducted in 2009 published in the “American Journal of Public Health” found that a person carrying a gun for self-defense was 4.5 times more likely to be shot during an assault as opposed to being unarmed.

I asked senior psychology major Giovanna Chavez whether weapons should be allowed on campus and she said, “I feel safer knowing no one has a gun on campus. If someone was allowed a gun on campus there’s always the possibility they may misuse it. Like, bring it out in the wrong situation.”

Everyone has their own belief as to what should be done about gun control, but one thing remains constant: the topic of gun control/concealed carry is one of complexity.

In a final attempt to shed some light on the topic, I interviewed the head of security, Rick Young, and he explained, “The reason we don’t allow guns or weapons on campus is for general student safety. It’s also against the law of Nebraska to carry on campus. There are [8] states that do allow concealed carry, but it’s for protection from rapes and school shootings that are going on. There are people of the mindset who think it’s better to allow concealed carry to stop those situations.”

He also shared that to help students feel safer on campus an anonymous tip website is in the making where students can report an incident online. However, if there were an emergency students should always call the police first, and then call 402-486-2911, which contacts Young.

If it isn’t an emergency then he suggests using the tip site. “Even if it’s just something you heard,” he said. “Some information is better than no information when it comes to student safety.”

Though we can’t solve the great controversy of gun control as easy as we would like, we know Union has our safety as a priority and has provided guidelines as to what to do in case something is looking illegally suspect.

Sean Hendrix is a senior studying biomedical science.