Do Gun Rights and College Campuses Mix?

School shootings are a troubling occurrence in the United States, and now Idaho has passed a bill that would make it the seventh state to allow concealed weapons on college and university campuses. The answer seems to point more at a symptomatic solution rather than a systemic, and raises the question: should students be buying guns with their textbooks?

History of School Shootings

This list contains hundreds of shooting incidents at American schools, dating back as far as 1764 and includes the most recent one that occurred on Feb. 28 at William Penn Senior High School. It's an unfortunately long list, and something that's become part of the country's landscape, rather than horrifying exceptions.

The debate over whether or not teachers should be armed has only gotten stronger, with the two sides firmly divided: one believes arming and training teachers would be a highly effective measure at cutting down senseless deaths, while the other believes the presence of more guns would only contribute to the problem. It's a situation with no easy answers, and yet both sides continue to search for one.

Idaho Becomes Lucky Number 7

Quite recently, a bill in Idaho was passed 50-19 by the House of Representatives to allow concealed guns on campus. The bill, which stipulates that people must first pass an eight-hour training session hosted by the National Rifle Association (NRA) before they can apply for a permit, would allow registered users to carry a gun with them everywhere on campus except residence halls and public entertainment facilities.

It's interesting to note that, despite Idaho being home to four times as many Republicans than Democrats (with the divide typically falling along those lines), Boise's police chief didn't support the bill, and neither did Boise State University President Bob Kustra.

But Maybe It's a Good Idea?

In a tongue-in-cheek way (it shouldn't have to be noted), a professor at Boise State, Greg Hampikian, wrote the New York Times a letter, asking for guidance as to when he may shoot a student, saying, "since many of my students are likely to be armed, I thought it would be a good idea to even the playing field."

Hampikian went on to write that he "want[s] to applaud the Legislature's courage" because "now that lethal force is an option, I need to know which infractions may be treated as de facto capital crimes" because "the harshest penalty available here at Boise State is expulsion." Hampikian treads a very careful line between humor and sharp truth, calling attention to both sides desires to see the problem go away.

While each passing day seems bleaker in resolving the problem (and it is a problem) with neither side being able to agree on a method, one point seems to get buried: despite differences between pro- and anti-gun citizens, very few of them actually think shootings are a good idea. Perhaps by focusing on what they have in common, more headway can be achieved.