The gun-ban policy on university and college campuses is in effect rightfully for the safety of students, faculty and all staff members. With the amount of higher education institutions with a campus police department, there is no need to allow students or anyone else on-campus to possess a weapon.
One’s constitutional right to bear arms is outweighed by the safety of the majority of the community. On a Pennsylvania college campus, state laws prohibit carrying a gun despite a license to carry. West Chester University abides by this law and prohibits all weapons with the no-weapon policy as described in the student code and conduct handbook.
Gun bans also exist on state and federal properties, such as police stations, fire stations, hospitals, airports, courthouses, post offices and a few more locations. If the law was not in place, it would still be imperative for college and university communities to instate a gun-ban and a no-weapon policy.
It’s hard to believe that seven states are considering changing their gun laws, which would affect if a gun-ban would be valid on a college or university campus. Proposed policy changes in other states would allow for professors to carry a weapon. Legislators have not considered how this could create a problem for police to differentiate a shooter from the professor who is stepping in to help. Police uniforms act as a way for other officers to identify their own help from a potential gun person.
On our campus, we have a police department with sworn officers who can respond to emergency calls. Public Safety officers would be followed by the West Chester Borough Police who would be the next to respond. Other neighboring police departments and SWAT could be on-scene as well.
In general, if there was a school shooting on a campus and students were permitted to carry a gun, some would say that this could end a school shooting. In this scenario, this could lead to more people getting hurt in the shooting as police would again not be able to distinguish the shooter from someone else who has a gun. If someone with a gun tries to help, it may now appear that they are the shooter.
Pennsylvania has self -defense law and defense of the third party law. Courts make the final decisions if actions, based on the law, including if a death occurs, would protect the defender. People who misinterpret the law may wrongfully believe they have the right to act, especially in a third party situation.
Could you imagine the impact of misusing weapons on-campus if students are suddenly allowed to carry? A bullet wound might become the leading cause of death of college students. This could outdo suicide, which is the second leading cause of death among college students. Each academic year there are 1,100 suicides of enrolled college students, according to www.suicideprevention.edu.
According to www.npr.com the number of college students diagnosed with depression has increased over the last decade. A study they used for research showed that one in four or five students who visit their university health center are depressed, despite if they have been diagnosed. With college students being a large community to be diagnosed with depression, adding a gun to this may potentially put more blood on campuses.
Seung-Hui Cho, the 2007 Virginia Tech shooter, was diagnosed with anxiety and severe depression. He legally obtained a gun before he killed 32 people and then himself.
To obtain a gun, you only need to be 21 years of age and to pass a criminal record background check. To get your license to carry in Pa., you have to pay an additional cost.
On our campus, our security officers do not even have a weapon. Why should a student or a resident be able to carry a weapon in the dorms?
Security officers can act as a line of defense to prevent anyone from bringing a weapon into the residence halls. If this is not a policy, then the security and police officers of Public Safety, as well as other university police departments, cannot be proactive in keeping weapons off campus grounds. Someone could be on-campus with a weapon and you may never realize it. However, without the no-weapon policy, students could walk freely around with a weapon. No one could stop them until it became a problem and that problem could extend to a threat, an injury or a fatality.
A student carrying a weapon on their waist can be seen as intimidation. Why do you need to go to class with a weapon? What is the need to carry a gun on this campus or any other college campus? You are in a learning environment when you walk around campus and attend classes.
If you’re scared or afraid for your safety, walk around campus with friends. If you’re afraid to walk alone, call Public Safety for an escort.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a fifth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.