The Republican-controlled Arizona legislature has approved a bill allowing students and staff to carry guns on public college campuses. If Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signs off, Arizona will become the second state, after Utah, permitting guns on school property — although Texas lawmakers are debating a similar proposal. Supporters say the measure will make colleges safer by letting people licensed to carry handguns defend themselves in emergencies like the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. Critics say the measure is "inexplicable," as it will encourage more people to carry guns in a state still rattled by the January shootings in Tucson. Who's right?
This will only make campuses more dangerous: "College kids aren't responsible," says Nicole Fabian-Weber at The Stir. Virtually every person who has ever attended a university has "done something stupid" by the time graduation rolls around — that's what happens when you "mix parentless students with alcohol." Throw guns into the mix and campuses will become unnecessarily dangerous, which is why the faculties of three Arizona universities passed resolutions against this bill. It's just a really "bad idea."
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Students should not be defenseless: It's time to move past the fantasy "that college is some sort of magical zone where people should not be allowed to protect themselves," says David Burnett of Students for Concealed Carry, as quoted in The Christian Science Monitor. Opponents of the law insist it's OK to deny students their constitutional right to bear arms out of concern for their safety. But Utah hasn't seen a single incident of gun violence since 2006, when the state started permitting concealed weapons on college campuses.
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This is a solution in search of a problem: There just aren't enough cases of "serious violence" on college campuses to justify the risks involved in arming students, says James Alan Fox at The Boston Globe. There are fewer than 20 homicides a year on college campuses. "Without minimizing the gravity of any loss of life, this annual victim count of is out of the tens of millions who study or work at institutions of higher education." There's just no need for this bill.
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