Two students’ perspectives on gun control

By Nicholas Wooten

Contributing Writer

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A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my dorm with my roommate and my girlfriend watching Netflix and relaxing after a long day of class, just like every other lazy col- lege student. I’m not sure how we got there but someone brought up the topic of a free-for-all Nerf Gun war on Cruz Plaza. Being a child at heart, I was extremely excited to finally have an excuse for running around on campus like an idiot as I shot people with N-Strike Elite darts. However, the feeling faded quickly as I remembered Mercer’s policy that prevents students from bringing weapons that range from hunting weapons to BB guns, paintball guns to bowie knives, and as my RA made very clear, water guns and Nerf guns. Why is the university so absolute on its stance on firearms and weapons? Why can’t students with concealed carry permits carry their weapon on campus?

Proponents of gun control might answer that the right to bear arms hinges on the establishment of a state militia. However, the historical and legal context in which the document was written must be considered in order to understand the amendment. Following the Revolutionary War, private citizens feared that a standing federal army could perform a coup on the nationally elected government. In response to these fears, James Madison responded in Federalist Paper 46 that a militia of armed citizens fighting for common civil liberties would act as a deterrent. The Second Amendment, like many other legal documents of the time period, naturally divides into two parts: a prefatory clause (stating the purpose making the right necessary) and operative clause (stating the right it- self). Simply because the state militias of yesteryear are gone doesn’t mean the right to bear arms ceases to exist. The motive behind the Second Amendment addresses tyrannical or oppressive actions that bring harm to the individual.

The Second Amendment also strongly supports the natural right of self-defense, a right which Mercerians may want to express more regularly. According to Neighborhood Scout, Macon is safer than only 2 percent of cities in the United States, with nearly 131 crimes per square mile occurring in the city last year. Throw out all the statistics you want, I don’t feel like Macon is that dangerous. Hell, I might be inclined to say I sometimes feel safer in Macon than in my own hometown. However, my friends (roommate and girlfriend included) don’t feel the same as I do.

The matter for me, however, is one of principle. According to Western tradition and the US Constitution we have a right to self-defense and the right to bear arms. John Locke, the famous 17th century Philosopher who inspired Jefferson, Adams, Paine, Franklin and other famous Patriots, stressed the natural rights of life, liberty and property. Therefore, we as citizens have the right to protect and defend ourselves against anything that threatens our life, liberty or property whether the aggressor is our next door neighbor or a stranger.

By allowing individuals with concealed carry permits to have their weapons on campus, you are not arming every single individual. Guns would not appear in mass quantities and individuals would not be very aware of their presence.

Many other universities in this nation have started to allow their students to carry firearms. Colorado State granted this right to their students in 2004; a negative incident involving an armed student has not occurred. Public universities in Georgia passed a bill last March that allows students with concealed carry permits to have their weapons on campus. Why can’t Mercer follow suit? Unlike those public universities, the “alcohol and firearms don’t mix” argument should not exist as Mercer is supposed to be a dry campus. Do we not trust our fellow Mercerians enough to bring their weapons on campus without shooting an innocent individual? We are told we are adults yet, we aren’t granted certain rights afforded to student at other institutions in the state. I understand the issue may be controversial, but at the very least, Mercer should not place my Nerf gun in the same category as a bowie knife.

 

By Caitlin Glasscock

Staff Writer

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Gun control is a growing issue that our country has been facing for several years. The matter of whether or not America needs more or less gun control legislation has become a more heated topic as a result of recent shootings that have grown into household names.

The Arvada Movie Theater shooting and Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting brought to our attention the threat that limited gun control laws offer. Gun and weapon control can present a problem to those who have or wish to gain a concealed weapon permit and to those who wish to purchase a weapon for either game or self-defense.

The idea and argument has been proposed for teachers at schools to be armed in case they face the problem of an invader. What about college students though? Should college students be allowed to carry a weapon on-campus?

College students spend a good amount of time outside of the classroom and venturing out into the new world and, in the case of Mercer students, crime-ridden town that comes with their new school. This is the first time that most students have left home to live on their own without their parents’ judgment of what is and is not safe.

A concern for many young adults, both students and non-students, is safety.

One solution to a young adult’s safety concerns is to carry a weapon such as a gun, knife or mace.

When college students are allowed to carry a weapon on campus, the threat of danger increases rather than safety. For those young adults living on a college campus, many states either ban concealed weapons by law or leave it up to the campus to decide.

A concealed carry permit is not granted to any individual under the age of 21 years, the same age as a typical college student in his or her junior year. Twenty-one is considered by many to be the age of a young adult, and while students are still adults, they do not all necessarily possess the maturity and mindset to carry a concealed weapon.

Without the proper mindset, a weapon could be harmful to the carrier and those around them. Allowing students to protect themselves with a concealed weapon also presents a hazard to those around them, as shown in the college shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University.

It is important to keep weapon control laws current, and to strengthen the enforcement of said laws.

The Second Amendment grants citizens the right to keep and bear arms. This is often brought up in the heated debates between pro- and anti-gun control proponents.

In both the American Bill of Rights and in James Madison’s Federalist Paper No. 46, it is not specifically stated that every individual is granted the right to bear arms for self-defense but rather in defense of oneself against tyranny and the government.

Under the interpretation that the Second Amendment stands to arm the military to defend against the government, should it become tyrannical, no private individual is granted the right to bear arms privately.

This leaves the Second Amendment with the possibility of restriction such as not allowing students to have a concealed weapon, or any weapon, on a college campus, even if they possess a concealed carry permit.

Allowing weapons onto college campuses poses a threat because it blurs the lines between what poses as protection and what poses as a threat.