Last week, CSU had a small gun scare of its own after a man openly possessing a fake firearm was apprehended and removed from the Morgan Library.
While the person in question was charged with a misdemeanor, this incident brings the issue of weapon safety closer to home for our community, and serves as an excellent example of the importance of gun-free zones when it comes to state and federal arms policy.
Gun control, or the policy to curb “gun violence,” tends to be a touchy subject in practically every area of America, and constructing a balanced policy to pay equal respect to safety concerns and constitutional rights is no easy task. However, in the context of our community in particular, gun-free zones should be an essential part of any legislative efforts to balance competing interests in the gun control debate.
Gun-free zones are crucial to striking a balance in firearms policy because they assure people of having a safe space to function without drastically trampling firearm possession rights. While it would be ridiculous to ignore that gun-related violence has occurred in designated “gun-free” zones before, such as in the Newtown shooting, letting this outlier discredit this aspect of policy would be equally ridiculous because gun-free zones, like most weapons-related regulation, is meant to manage the normal, expectable aspects of firearm possession in any given area. Extreme incindents of gun attacks, like any lawless action, cannot realistically be prevented by any laws. However, gun-free zones, which include schools, help assure a sense of safety for all within the area in non-extreme circumstances.
While some might argue that regulations like gun-free zones designed to create an assurance of safety aren’t worth infringing gun owners’ rights over, it is specifically the protection of this sense of safety that makes these designations so imperative for our community. Gun-free zones are mainly only implemented around public education institutions, and I think very few people would argue with the assertion that students should feel safe and secure when learning in school. Even here on campus at CSU, firearms are only banned within residence halls and dining areas — those with concealed carry permits are still able to possess their weapons around campus as long as they have proper documentation. Ideally, the gun-free zone should be expanded to campus as a whole, since the weapons ban crazily enough does not extend to classrooms at present. A reinforced sense of security should be a paramount element of developing an effective learning environment.
These types of regulations on firearm possession are a small price to pay in order to guarantee, under reasonable circumstances, the safety of everyone striving to further their education. While some might view law enforcement’s response to the Morgan Library situation as excessive and point to it as an example of the perceived persecution of gun owners, the reality is that the police handled the situation with reasonable alarm, and that keeping areas on campus free of weapons is a fair compromise to the interests of all parties based on the nature of firearms.
Tempering the extent of constitutional rights such as those protected by the second amendment is never easy, but gun-free zones provide a method to offer needed balance between gun owners and non-owners. Firearm possession has been statistically proven to make areas more dangerous just on the context of their possession alone, and while this constitutional privilege cannot be denied, there needs to be reasonable protections in place, such as gun-free zones, for those who choose not to bear arms.
Collegian Columnist Sean Kennedy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @seanskenn.