Sunday, March 7, 2010

Right To Bear Arms

Colorado has been having a lot of problems lately. There was another school shooting, this time at a middle school, and by a random adult. You have probably heard the story on the news since Deer Creek Middle School is just a few miles away from the notorious Columbine High School, so you can bet no news source ignored that fact. And now there is controversy at Colorado State University, where the university was considering revoking the students’ right to carry a concealed weapon. CSU was one of a few universities in the country without a concealed weapons ban. And now the board has decided to ban all concealed weapons at the Fort Collins campus. The Pueblo campus students will still be able to carry concealed tasers and stun gun, however. Given the timing of this decision with the Deer Creek Middle School attack you have to wonder if there was much thought given to the ban.

I am not a pro-gun advocate. Nor am I a nonviolent sit-in pacifist. I just do not like stupidity and irrationality. So you must ask, did the Deer Creek Middle School shooting, in the wake of the Columbine High School massacre, prompt the CSU board to ban concealed weapons on campus? Or was it just a timely coincidence? The board professes that it has been researching the idea for at least a year. I think that it is possible that they have indeed been looking at concealed weapons ban for a year. But I also think that with the recent middle school attack, the public is very likely highly sensitized to the issue of guns. This sequence of events could easily lead to a political cascade that results in a concealed weapons ban at CSU, one of a few universities not to have a concealed weapons ban. A conspiracy theorist would say the Middle School attack was orchestrated to force a ban at CSU.

That is a lot of politics, though, and that is not what I am writing about. Let us look at the reasoning’s of both sides. It is plainly simple to see the logic of the anti-gun group. A gun increases the risk of murder. More guns equals high risk. Any risk above zero is unacceptable. It has been shown that having more guns in an area does not increase safety. In fact, it may even reduce safety. We already know that people tend to overestimate their skills out of conscious or subconscious arrogance. Over fifty percent of drivers think they are above average drivers. It would then logically follow that most gun toting people believe they have the restraint to not use the gun to solve a dispute. And then when they get into a dispute they would find out they were wrong. So if there were less guns out there over all, there must surely be less killing overall.

On the other side, however, you have a different viewpoint. And while some may believe that they have the restraint to keep from using a gun to settle disputes, it is not the main argument. The argument rests on the fact that Columbine and Deer Creek occurred. Both incidents as well as numerous other incidents around the country ended not because authorities came and ended the attack, but because the attackers committed suicide or were stopped by their victims. Now it is still true that more guns do not mean more safety, but the other part of that is that more guns do not mean more safety for everyone. But if authorities are unable to control the situation in time, people will not be worried about the public safety. They will be worried about their individual safety, something that is not well studied because most places have concealed weapons bans. I listen to the interviews and the students that support and carry concealed weapons all say they want their campus to be safe, exposing their ignorance to the current facts and their superficial attempt to use the greater good as an arguing point. They are simply looking out for their own personal safety in a scenario where safeguards for the public cannot help them. It might be selfish, but I gather they would rather be selfish than dead.

I do not know what the right answer is here. What this tells us is that our world has grown so large that we are seeing a shift back towards the individual and away from the crowd. With so many recent scandals of greed and the government unable to adequately protect or help the multitudes of Americans suffering collateral damage, it is little wonder why more people are adopting a more “personalized” approach to life.