Thursday, May 17, 2012

Brigham Young University: A Gun-Free Zone

Brigham Young University: A Gun-Free Zone
Written by: D. Gunnar Renshaw

            I grew up in a gun-free zone myself, which is just the rule of the house my parents had in place. Becoming an adult, I saw the value of having guns and made the personal decision to own a gun, to be properly trained in carrying and shooting guns, and made the choice to conceal carry a gun (having the gun concealed on your person usually underneath clothing or in a bag, a permit is required to do so). Similarly to my parent’s home, Brigham Young University is a no gun zone. Brigham Young University is a privately own institution and reserves the right to make rules/laws concerning the matter of guns on campus. BYU's Firearms and Weapons policy states, "No one person (personnel, students, or visitors) except law enforcement shall be permitted to possess or carry firearms or other weapons, concealed or not concealed, with a permit or without a permit, while upon properties owned by the University." Previously, I agreed with BYU's decision to not allow guns on campus, it was not until recent university tragedies in which my position has changed to believing BYU should allow students and personnel to conceal carry guns if they have the proper permit to do so.
            On April 2, 2012 at Oikos University, a private Christian university similar to BYU, a  former student brought a gun to school for the intention of severely hurting and killing other students. Seven students were shot and killed and three other peoples were injured in this tragic event. The tragic event has scarred students of Oikos from witnessing friends and fellow student’s lives being tragically taken away.
            Another recent incident happened at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007. The Virginia Tech massacre consisted of one student with a gun killing 32 people and severely wounding 17 others. Previously to the Virginia Tech massacre guns were not allowed on campus as an open carry (meaning the gun is visible), or even a concealed carry for those that had permits to do so. In response to this event, student activists across the nation formed a group known as "Students for Concealed Carry on Campus". This group is working with politicians nationwide to allow gun permit holders to conceal carry on university campuses for the purpose of providing oneself personal safety as well as preventing tragedies, similar to those that occurred at Oikos and Viginia Tech. More responsible persons with guns will benefit any community.
            First, It is true that most universities (BYU included) have police officers stationed on campus. Unfortunately, there are too few officers to be in all places at once to confront a potential shooter before he fires and takes a life. The key here is to allow citizens to conceal carry, those who have taken a course and have been trained on the safety and parameters of carrying a concealed firearm. With more responsible persons on BYU's campus with firearms there will be a higher chance that a shooter would be confronted sooner, hopefully before he pulls the trigger. It is interesting to note that large cities that have put in place laws to allow citizens to conceal carry guns have had the effect of lowering crime by 12%. Just as cities that allow its citizens to conceal carry guns has the effect of lowering crime rate, likewise if BYU allows its personnel and students to conceal carry it will lower the chances of a tragedy taking place here on campus.
            Second, Law-abiding citizens (personnel, students and visitors) who conceal carry will disarm themselves before entering a gun-free zone like BYU, unfortunately non-law abiding citizens will not. Therefore, those non-law abiding citizens wishing to commit mass murder are more likely to target gun-free zone like universities (BYU) and churches because they know the population inside is unarmed. Like Oikos University and Virginia Tech, Brigham Young University is currently a sitting duck, which would allow a person with mal intent to commit a horrific act of violence at BYU being met with little to none resistance. Guns are not the problem, people are.
            Lastly, people have agency, therefore people can choose to be good or evil, and guns on the other hand are only a tool. In BYU's Firearm and Weapons policy they state the reason for not allowing guns is because they "are capable of inflicting serious injury....and pose a clear risk to persons and property on the BYU campus." Guns do not "pose a clear risk" but people do, guns are only a tool for good or for evil. Evil people will use this tool against us, it is our responsibility to use our resources and use guns as a tool for good. Guns are a tool that can protect, save and allow people to continue to have their liberties. We, the BYU community, all personnel, students, alumni, etc..., must take the responsibility of making sure our university is a safe place and a place that protects our liberties.
            As faculty and students we can raise awareness of this issue on campus. We can write letter to the student government, the Board of Education, and the Board of Trustees expressing our concerns about the safety of BYU's campus. Brigham Young University is not immune to such a tragic event because it is a religious university or because it is located in "Happy Valley." Oikos University was also a Christian university which taught the highest of standards and values and it became victim to such a tragedy. It is our responsibility to take preventative measures now, instead of regretting consequences of a tragedy later when it is too late. As other universities have done, it would be in BYU's best interest to change their policy on gun control and allow those who have been properly certified to conceal firearms on campus. Concealed firearm permit holders are more than people who protect themselves and their family, they protect the community. This change in policy alone would make Brigham Young University a safer place, as well as more constitutionally sound.
            The second amendment of the constitution of the United States, which we as a BYU and LDS community believe is inspired, boldly claims that the people have the right to "keep and bear arms" and that "shall not be infringed". In light of the Constitution of the Unites States of America, which protects our freedoms, we the people of the Brigham Young University deserve the right to have a safe university, to able to protect our lives, to protect the lives of those on campus, and the right to conceal carry (bear arms).

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