Responding to "State gun laws prompt debate"By Letter to the Editor | 02/25/2014 11:00pm
I have been a concealed-carry permit holder in the state of Alabama for almost three years now. I typically exercise the right to arm myself whenever and wherever it is legal. Sadly, this right does not extend to everywhere I go. Despite both federal and state laws supporting legal firearm possession on public universities, The University of Alabama does not recognize this right and can suspend or expel any student found in violation of university policy.
We all know that many of this university’s policies are a farce. Somehow we have rampant institutional racism, SGA fraud and clear subservience by our administration to a few elite donors. The policy of guns on campus is no different. It is nothing short of naiveté to assume there is a magic bubble around the campus where no laws are broken and no one is hurt.
In the past few years, there have been several other universities who have fallen victim to school-shootings, proving the fact prohibiting guns on campus does not a safe campus make. Just last year at UA there was an “active shooter” situation in one of the fraternity houses. More recently, three members of the UA football team savagely beat and robbed a defenseless student walking to his dorm. The threat of violence is very real, and ignoring it is irresponsible at best.
Gun ownership is a civil liberty, a fact that Mr. Sebastian acknowledges but fails to grasp. Gun ownership should not be a polarizing political dichotomy, as we all have a vested interest in the well-being of our community. Sadly, the reality is the issue has become heavily politicized, leading to half-truths and outright lies from anyone in opposition. (Case in point, the same year I turned 21 I received my CCW permit, and I also rented a car here in Tuscaloosa.) Those who oppose gun ownership envision a wild-west shootout scenario that empirical evidence has simply not brought to bear. I have never once seen a class discussion become so heated that it resulted in blows (or even shouts) being exchanged.
Other campuses have successfully allowed students who have already been predetermined by the county and state to be law-abiding gun owners to carry on campus, and there have been no incidences. While I am not suggesting that campus carry should primarily serve as a deterrent to mass shootings, many may be surprised to find out that the police have no legal responsibility to risk their lives for yours. And furthermore, the police cannot intervene until a crime has actually been committed. In active shooter situations, a SWAT team has to be mobilized, briefed and put into place – this takes time. When seconds count, the police are minutes away.
I live within a mile of campus and walk to school every morning and home every night. In three years of living in the same neighborhood, I have been a victim of one home invasion and witness to another. A quick perusal of this year’s crime updates in the CW shows that several muggings have happened in my neighborhood, as well. Again, the threat is closer to home than many realize, and students who have to walk much farther than I do are even more vulnerable. I am not advocating that everyone should own a gun, and I do support increased scrutiny for background checks. However, I am advocating that UA allow legal law-abiding citizens who are already licensed by the state and county to carry a firearm, be able to do so, on and from campus.
Ross Owens is a graduate student studying anthropology.