Goeser: College campuses are no place for guns

Ana Goeser

The right to bear arms is an inherent part of being an American citizen, but every now and then a story of a school shooting is broadcast on the news and the safety of the American college campus is examined. The question for schools that don’t allow guns on campus quickly becomes, “Should students be able to carry guns on campus for protection or should firearm bans be more heavily enforced?” The Supreme Court of Colorado and in turn, the University of Colorado, recently ruled that allows concealed weapons to be carried by permit carrying citizen’s on campus. This has caused many people to question their safety, and I believe that their unease is warranted.

Regardless of the fact that students who would be bearing arms would be of legal age and with state permit, when asked whether students should be allowed to carry guns on campus, state law should uphold an unconditional “no.”

First and foremost, I believe concealed weapons might cause a needless increase in anxiety for college students as they went about their academic career.Why wouldn’t fear and suspicion strike while walking across campus and sitting in class? Would you be intimidated to sit in a lecture hall knowing that your neighbor or professor could possibly have a gun in their pocket? Would this cause you to buy and carry a gun? Would a classroom full of guns make you feel secure or fearful? With record enrollment at Iowa State, it is currently comforting to know that state laws against weapons protect thousands of students.

As a caveat, there is the argument that those who use the guns in a criminal way don’t follow weapon laws in the first place. The law doesn’t stop the bad guys from criminal action, so why shouldn’t the victims be able to effectively protect themselves? In fact, I am usually the one voicing this standpoint in political debate. I fully support and believe that citizens should have the right to protect themselves and bear arms in regards to the United States as the whole. These weapons are still out of place in the college system. The possibility that a person with a gun would be in the right place at the right time on campus to deter a criminal shooter seems too slim to justify the entire permitted university population carrying a gun.

College isn’t necessarily an unstable environment, but it is an epicenter of high academic and professional pressure, continuous social interaction, and at times, experimentation with binge drinking and drugs by a select group of people. These three realities could theoretically lead to mental instability or rash decision-making. Voiced in another way, because of the psychological and cultural influences, as well as the attitude of freedom and independence, college students sometimes do stupid things. Having guns immediately available and within reach presents danger.

Judgement is routinely clouded during the course of a college career. This is obvious when talking about alcohol or drugs, but also in regards to depression, stress and sleep deprivation. The desire to succeed is within many college students, but with this is a large workload, bouts of stress and fear of failure. On top of this, around 30 percent of polled college students said that in the last 12 months they felt so depressed they couldn’t function. In an environment with such stress and elevated depression, guns shouldn’t even be an option.

Furthermore, the simple existence of weapons on campus allows the possibility for firearms to be stolen or to land in the wrong hands. College theft is currently on the rise, and at the top of the list is dorm room theft. A stranger stealing personal belongings is criminal in itself, but a stranger stealing a weapon is a hazard to the entire university community.

The right to bear arms should be exercised by the legal-aged, permit-holding, upstanding U.S. citizen. States looking at changing firearm regulations should take into consideration the theft level, mental health and general atmosphere of college campuses before moving forward.