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Colorado students set firearm example

By Tyler McCarthy
On November 28, 2012

This rant begins earlier this month at the University of Colorado, where a staff member with a permit to carry a concealed weapon at Anschutz Medical School of Dental Medicine, accidentally shot a co-worker while showing off her gun. This foolish incident made firearms the number one concern for the administration of the university in a state that is already quite sensitive to gun violence. The end result was a ban, in August, on all firearms in the campus' dorms. However, not looking to trample on the rights of any student with a concealed carry permit, that is, a student who has demonstrated his or her responsibility with firearms, the university designated a special dorm for those over 21 who wish to keep their firearm with them. Three months after that decision, the University of Colorado has had no one opt to live in these firearm friendly dorms. To that I say - good.
There are a number of reasons why students in Colorado don't wish to relocate, especially since most of the students with a concealed carry permit are in their senior year. Not the least of which is that they might not feel comfortable advertising the fact that they insist on keeping their gun in their dorm or living in a concentrated area of those who do. In short, it would appear that no student finds their attachment to their firearms strong enough to uproot their college experience.
It is my personal belief that firearms have absolutely no place on a college campus. There is far too much else to worry about in college without guns being an issue. For most people, living on campus is their first experience living on their own. The university and state should do everything in their power to guarantee residents' safety and taking special care to allow guns on campus is a backward way of doing that, especially when it only applies to upperclassmen.
I don't mean to discourage gun enthusiasts or to paint them in a bad light. I believe that shooting is a fantastic sport and those who practice it are, by and large, safe, responsible and hold no ill will toward anyone. In fact, I view Colorado as an achievement for the overall image of gun enthusiasts in colleges. None of the students saw fit to make their right to firearms a big issue if those around them felt unsafe. Here at UConn I've lived with two people who shot for sport, both of whom were adamant about not keeping a weapon with them on campus, and I've learned first-hand the vast amount of safety and control permit carriers need to demonstrate. I believe in the Second Amendment but I also believe in logic, reason and safety. While men and women with concealed carry permits have demonstrated an ability and responsibility with firearms, if tragedies like Columbine, the Aurora shooting, the Virginia Tech incident and countless other gun related crimes have taught us anything it's that one bad apple can spoil the bunch. With so many people living in a high-stress environment, why invite the risk that firearms bring?
Here at UConn firearms haven't been allowed in dorms for quite some time. In 2010 there was a calm protest by the UConn Pistol and Rifle Club to raise awareness for the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC), a group that advocates allowing students to carry their guns on campus under the constrictions that they be hidden from plain view. Many who stand with the SCCC feel that exercising their second amendment rights is something to fight for and that they feel significantly safer when carrying their guns. To them I ask, why?
Why is the world of academia an appropriate place to exercise your right to bare arms? Why do you only feel safe carrying a weapon? And why is my sense of personal safety worth sacrificing for yours?
I've heard the very ignorant argument that had anyone else besides James Holmes in the Aurora theater shooting been carrying a weapon, he might have been put down with limited loss of life. While I respect permit carriers, I think most of them would agree that their permit does not equate to tactical training or grace under pressure. If anything, what you'd have been looking at in the theater is more friendly-fire and confusion for police.
The only true safety comes from citizens looking at guns as their hobby, not their protection. For that reason, I'm pleased to hear that students in Colorado have not decided to make this a bigger issue and I'm pleased that students at UConn and most schools across the country have kept to the logic of keeping firearms out of our dorms. It's simply not worth the risk.  


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