By Kyeland Jackson–
Someone posted a petition to bring concealed carry to campus on a bulletin board in the library. Reading “Gun free zones don’t work” and “Universities choose to make you an easy target,” the petition asks readers to support bill HB 221, a state bill to allow citizens to carry concealed weapons on university campuses.
Concealed carry off campus is already allowed, with the bill simply extending current law. The purpose of the bill is to “defend ourselves as a community.” But exactly who are you defending?
Using the phrase “fight fire with fire” doesn’t work here. Firefighters don’t use fire to extinguish fire. The only practical use of the phrase is when fires will redirect another fire. Here the same can be assumed. Throwing more guns into a gun equation will only move that problem elsewhere.
The uniform crime report for Kentucky cited over 200 thousand serious crimes in 2014. In that data, handguns were used for over half of homicides. Weapons law violations barely increased by 2.24 percent, up 49 incidents from 2013. Out of 280 homicides, 61 were caused by an argument and 31 were cited as negligent killing. Only one was cited as a justifiable homicide. It was not cleared.
Property crimes outnumbered violent crimes by three to one. Bribery, on the other hand, increased by 595 percent.
U of L has more of a theft problem than a violent one. Larceny and theft made up half of the offenses on campus, while destruction of property followed with a close fourth of the total.
Which brings me back to the topic at hand for guns on campus, and my second worry: the people getting the guns.
It’s not all about what harm they can do to other people. There’s a threat to even themselves. Campus shootings and homicides are a threat, but the discussion over gun possession has neglected an important factor: suicides and murder-suicides.
A study by the Violence Policy Center found there were 1,382 murder-suicide deaths in the U.S. in 2011. Firearms made up 89 percent of those events.
The University of Utah’s Library of Medicine cited over 30 thousand deaths from firearms in the U.S. in 2010. Suicide made up more than half of that.
In 2012, the American Psychological Association found that 30 percent of college students thought about suicide. Eleven percent thought about seriously harming others.
Mixing a large population of students with guns, probability for depression and a national tendency for murder-suicide when guns are around is preparing us for trouble.
The purpose of this is not to say we should do nothing. Something should be done to curb the increase of campus shootings nationwide. Whether that be an armed and trained faculty, increased security presence or enhanced safety measures, options should be explored. For that I applaud the thought of concealed carry, because it comes down to people wanting to feel secure and safe. But this isn’t a viable solution for U of L, and likely not for campuses nationwide either.
I would like to say I’m so concerned about this petition because I’m a concerned citizen. That I don’t want to risk the unnecessary harm of others around me. But it’s probably because I’m selfish. Selfish and afraid.
I, as a black man, am afraid to have a campus dominated by citizens with guns.
I’ve been told of racial oppression, warned of the targeting and always told to be vigilant. It’s all scary stories until there is another race-involved shooting.
And while I try to accept my mortality, I can’t help but be afraid my decision to wear a leather jacket one night will be my, or another black man’s, last decision ever made.
Whether it’s fact or fear based, concealed carry weapons aren’t an end-all to campus shootings. It’s only redirecting another fire, and an assurance that I’ll be more wary and afraid in a classroom with my peers.