Editorial: Trustees assess gun policies at upcoming retreat
In response to the numerous unfortunate campus shootings across the United States, schools along with state legislatures are looking more closely at gun-carry laws. Just weeks after one of the latest shootings which occurred at Umpqua Community College, the Senate Committee on Judiciary passed Michigan’s Senate Bill 442 which would essentially allow people to carry guns on premises currently deemed as “pistol-free zones,” such as churches, bars, daycares, hospitals, casinos, school campuses and more. The bill has now moved to the full Senate and is awaiting a response.
Schools themselves are looking at their own campus policies – this includes Washtenaw Community College. The current policies in place, as explained by Vice President of Facilities, Grounds and Campus Safety Damon Flowers, prohibit students, faculty and staff from carrying weapons on campus. However, he also commented that the board of trustees has the power to change campus policies. While allowing students, faculty and staff to carry weapons would be highly unlikely, considerations are to be discussed about implementing on-campus officers or other options at the board’s retreat on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
The members of WCC’s diverse population will surely fall all across the spectrum in regards to gun safety and security policies. On one end, some students may seek the right to carry a gun, whether concealed or open-carry, on campus. On the other end, some would say no guns at all should be permitted on campus grounds.
There are those who think a gun in the hands of every willing and able student is the answer to protecting the student body, but the presence of more guns definitely does not mean more safety. An example of this could be highlighted by the situation at UCC in early October when an active shooter came onto the campus. There were armed students on campus that day as well. Due to an 1989 Oregon law, any public body – except the Legislature – is forbidden from restricting the rights of concealed weapons permit-holders to bring guns where they wish, according to The Oregonian.
The Oregonian also highlighted that one carrying student wanted to rush to the aid of the victims at the time of the attack, but was advised not to by a college employee. The points that employee made demonstrate exactly why allowing students to carry wouldn’t have the protective effect that many gun-carriers claim they have: the active shooter could have taken them down or law enforcement officers already on the scene could have mistaken them for another assailant rather than a vigilante, said UCC carrying student John Parker to The Oregonian.
Now while we support the need for our school to be protected, we also support the need for student voices to be heard on the issue before any decisions are made. Although it’s understood that the college would only want to do what they think is in the students’ best interest, including as many people as possible in decision making is paramount. Although we may not agree if a decision were to be made to increase the presence of firearms on WCC’s campus, via armed officers, we still appreciate that our school’s policy makers are taking into consideration the changing definition of safety in the wake of all these mass and public murders.