Even in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and 18 other innocent bystanders, the GOP is pushing to allow concealed weapons on college campuses. The Republican Party in several states is hell bent on getting more guns into the hands of school kids, including, ridiculously enough, in Arizona.
As always, the GOP is sticking to the stale old story about how events like the massacre could have been averted if only there were more guns involved. This excuse completely ignores the fact that there was a citizen carrying a gun at the shopping center when the shooting occurred – who almost accidentally shot the citizen hero who tackled and disarmed the shooter!
Arizona Republican State Sen. Ron Gould commented on the proposed bill by saying, “I don’t see how gun control could have prevented that shooting unless you take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.” The senator is ignoring the fact that so many rounds could be fired and so much damage done because of the extended magazine clip that Jared Lee Loughner was able to purchase legally in Arizona due to the lax gun restrictions.
The real fear isn’t necessarily an increase in mass school shootings, as these attacks usually are politically motivated by right-wing extremism. The violent and aggressive rhetoric on the right feeds the delusional paranoid hysteria that drives a young person to shoot his or her schoolmates. The possibility of being shot by their gun-toting class mates won’t discourage them as most of the mass shooters intend to be dead at the end of their spree. The real fear is how the availability of guns on campus increasing will effect the overstressed student population.
The GOP is out of touch and who can blame them? How can we expect the political party that ran the oldest presidential candidate in American history last cycle to remember what being young is like? Being university age myself, I have no problem admitting that students are an impassioned bunch. Try attending a college football game or dorm party. If you don’t see a fight break out, a girl breaking up with her boyfriend, a boy cheating on his girlfriend or some fraternity brothers drawing on their sleeping friend’s faces then you have your eyes closed. College campuses are mine fields of explosive enthusiasm and explosive overreaction. If they weren’t, shows like Campus PD and Party Heat (two popular “Cops” style shows set, as their titles would suggest, on campuses) would be a snorefest! But, what happens when the “I caught you flirting with my girlfriend” fist fights turn into gunfights?
Or consider the rise in teen suicides especially for youths struggling with sexual identities. How will these students be effected when they can more easily get their hands on a gun in their own dorm? Or their neighbor’s room? With all the added pressures on the 21st century student and the difficult world that we are inheriting, how many students will feel overwhelmed or hopeless and make a split second decision to pull a trigger?
The problem isn’t that youth themselves are violent or dangerous to themselves or others. Our school years are extremely stressful and brutally competitive in every meaning of the sense. Being on one’s own for the first time, mingling with one’s peers, romance, hormones, testosterone, heavy drinking and clashes with egos that are larger than life: Take all of this and multiply it by a couple thousand and you have the typical college. Add a truckload of guns to the situation and you have a time bomb.
President Obama responded in an under-the-radar editorial piece in the Arizona Daily Star, in which he talked about “sensible” gun control, mentioning things like the various loopholes that allow a citizen to be rejected for a gun and then simply go to another kind of location to purchase it. Democrats were hoping the president to address the issue sooner due to the shooting but are pleased that he is addressing it now.
In the ever-present shadow of school shootings that we’ve experienced – from Columbine to Virginia Tech – the idea that more guns would remedy the situation would be laughable if it wasn’t so frightening. Other states besides Arizona debating similar bills include Texas and New York, while in a stunning upset, the Florida Senate republicans voted down a similar bill.