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The last few months have witnessed a number of conflicting developments in gun control legislation. This month, California signed a bill that bans concealed weapons on school and college campuses; this comes in sharp contrast to the Texas legislature’s decision in June to legalize the carrying of concealed guns at public and private universities. The recent mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon has heightened the tensions surrounding the debate over gun control, especially regarding the presence of guns on college campuses. The decisions by the California and Texas governments demonstrate the two conflicting modes of thought: Some argue that the solution to gun-related violence is more guns, whereas others champion more stringent gun control measures.
That such a debate exists about the right to carry guns on campuses is appalling: Schools and universities are clearly and undoubtedly better off without guns. Schools are places of intellectual and social development where civic duties and vocational skills are imparted through discourse and dialogue. Guns heighten distrust and tension among students and faculty—such a fearful atmosphere is not conducive to learning and intellectual growth. Following the Texas decision to permit concealed carry in campus, one professor commented that he would resign his post because he would not feel safe in his classroom. It is a disgrace that we have been reduced to this debate. The fact that we even have to confront such a question is indicative of the magnitude of the gun problem in this country.
Guns cannot be exonerated from guilt in tragic incidents like the one that just took place in Oregon. Though it is true that people commit these crimes, it is the ubiquity of guns that encourages and provokes these incidents; to solely blame individuals is complacent and misguided. As President Obama mentioned in his impassioned speech following the Oregon shooting, the US is not the only country with mental health issues and gaming culture, but it is the sole nation where mass-shootings have become routine and commonplace
It is sad that we in this nation must have this discussion about guns repeatedly, with no resolution while innocent lives continue to be taken with frightening regularity. Despite the many gun-related tragedies, there has been little done to limit the availability of guns; the fear of some gun supporters that any gun control law will strip them of their civic liberties and freedom is delusional. Their paranoia points to nothing less than an idolization of guns—one that is unhealthy on a personal level and harmful on a national scale. It is disheartening that these prejudices and irrational fears have prevented a healthy discourse on gun control. In even having a debate over the presence of guns in schools, we have completely missed the forest for the trees: The answer should be obvious.
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