Ohio legislation allowing guns on campus too risky
Imagine yourself sitting in class. It’s been a long day, and you’re not paying attention to your professor. Instead, you’re planning your evening. Maybe you have an exam the next day and you want to go study in the library. Maybe you have to go down to the KAC at 4 for practice. Maybe all you want to do is sit with your friends and eat.
Then you hear gun shots. Not from the shooting range nearby, but on campus. The school goes on lockdown. Your professors instruct you to stay in the classroom, turn off the lights, cover the windows on the doors, lock the doors from the inside and hide. The room is absolutely silent. Eventually, Campus Safety comes to tell you you may all go back to your dorms.
“Were there any casualties?” you ask. “We are not at liberty to discuss that information right now,” the officer replies. You call your parents to tell them you’re OK and then you call all your friends to make sure they are as well. One of them doesn’t pick up. You try again. Still no answer. The next day the president’s office sends out an email explaining the incident and those affected. Your friend is in critical condition.
This hypothetical situtation is similar to what the families and friends of the first graders at Newtown, the high schoolers at Columbine and the college students at Virginia Tech have experienced. I am not willing to allow my school to be added to that list. House Bill 48, Concealed Carry-Affirmative Defenses-Carrying Firearm in Certain Vulnerable Areas, or the “Guns Everywhere Bill,” which is currently in committee in the Ohio State Senate, would allow people to carry weapons on college campuses across the state.
This is a recipe for a disaster. College students are under a tremendous amount of stress, are often impulsive and inevitably have access to alcohol. The combination of these factors would produce a dangerous and potentially disastrous situation if guns were added to the mix. But it is more likely that impulsive students will hurt themselves, rather than their peers.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year-olds, after accidents and homicides. The most common argument against gun-violence prevention is that a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. But two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States are from suicides, not mass shootings. The only thing that may be more upsetting than finding out your friend has been shot, is finding out that she actively decided to take her own life.
I drafted the “Keep Guns off Kenyon College Campus” petition in March alongside Alex Piper ’16 to place pressure on President Sean Decatur’s office to make an official statement in opposition to this bill. As of now, he has not, to my knowledge, made any such statement. There should be no ambiguity about whether one could conceal-carry a gun on campus. In the event this law passes, the school should make it abundantly clear to students, faculty, alumni, high school juniors and seniors, and the community that Kenyon is, and will always be, a gun-free zone.
Thousands of families across the United States grapple with the unimaginable pain that comes from losing a child to gun violence. I do not want yours to be one of them.
Jessica Gorovitz ’19 is undeclared from Berkeley, Calif. Contact her at email@example.com.