Guns on Campus

One of the (many, many) things my faculty have chosen to lose their minds about this summer is the new guns on campus legislation.

Long policy short: Full-time faculty and staff who meet certain qualifications are now allowed to legally carry a concealed weapon on campus in certain areas under certain conditions. (Which is actually very limiting when you think about it.)

I’ve heard a variety of arguments for and against this in the past few months, but in my view there are three types of people in this situation, and only one of them concerns me.

Person 1: This person has no interest in being personally armed. Whether they support other people having firearms or not is irrelevant; the point is that they have no desire to carry a weapon themselves. I am this person. This person does not bother me.

Person 2: This person has grown up around firearms and has used them all his life. He’s been trained in all the safety features and procedures of the weapon and has practiced using it for years. He understands and respects his weapon. He carries a gun on campus not because he feels a need too, but because it’s a natural extension of his body and he didn’t think to take it off that morning. He knows a gun is a last resort but, if it does become necessary, he knows what he’s doing and can hit what he’s aiming at. This person does not concern me.

Person 3: This person is under the impression that he needs to be armed for personal protection “now that everyone else is carrying a weapon.” He has no training beyond the standard handgun carry permit course and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Having the firearm within reach makes him feel “safer,” but in reality, this is the person who will reach for his weapon at the first sound of commotion because he is scared. This person has no business carrying a weapon because he does not know how to use it, will be easily disarmed by an attacker and is more likely to hit innocent bystanders than the person he feels is a threat. This person concerns me.

This is the category most of my complainers fall into. They are under the impression that they’ll be on the only ones on campus who are unarmed if they don’t start to carry. These are the people who want my office to start mentioning in every news release whether or not firearms MIGHT be present at that particular event so they can decide not to participate because a weapon MIGHT be SOMEWHERE in the room at some point. If there is a gun in the room, I hope it’s with Person 2 and not Person 3.

These people have no business carrying a weapon, and will actually compound the problem if they do. I don’t have a desire to carry a gun, but if an attacker comes into my building, I want to be in the room with Person 2, not Person 3.

So if you are Person 3, please, don’t go out and buy a handgun. There are enough Person 2s in this world (and particularly in northwest Tennessee) to slow an attacker down until the police arrive. They won’t need your help. I promise.

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