Should colleges ban firearms?

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I’m a firm believer in our rights as stated in the Second Amendment. In fact as a college student, I regularly hunted on weekends, but that was as a local who drove to school. If you asked me this question a year ago, I may have cast my lot with the other side, but the Virginia Tech incident has made things much fuzzier than before. Now, I’m afraid that college students who are target shooters or hunters should wait to go back home to practice their sport. Outside of the campus police, there really is no place on campus for a gun.

Heinous acts aside, some schools might even be chosen by students who enjoy the shooting sports, or at least partially on that basis. Schools like Virginia Tech and West Virginia University are a half-hour drive (or less) from shooting ranges and public hunting lands. It would be a shame if they weren’t allowed to enjoy the great American sport, but there really doesn’t seem to be much of a choice. Cho Seung-Hui’s crimes were carried out with a .22 caliber rifle, which is generally considered a kid’s first gun or a “plinker”. However, it’s really not all that hard to imagine what kind of damage he could have done with a hunting rifle or assault weapon.

In August of 1966, Charles Whitman climbed to the top of a tower on the University of Texas campus and killed 14 people while wounding 31 others. His weapon was a 6mm Remington hunting rifle, and the 6mm is an effective long distance killing machine. Anybody within 500 yards was effectively in Whitman’s danger zone. An entire section of the university was held hostage for a couple of hours, and if it weren’t for the heroic actions of the police, the damage this lunatic could have caused is unimaginable!

Believe it or not, there is one scenario that is even more frightening than the horrible deeds of Seung-Hui and Whitman. The idea of serial killer on a college campus isn’t really all that far fetched. John Muhammed and John Lee Malvo had the entire mid-Atlantic region on alert for 17 days in the fall of 2002. Officials wondered just who these madmen were in light of the 9/11 disaster a year earlier, and their apprehension came about as a stroke of luck. It makes one ponder the possibilities! A disturbed individual with a plan could cause untold pain for a long period of time. Even as somebody who supports our right to bear arms, I am of the opinion that there really is no place for assault rifles in our society. They are illegal as a sporting arm, and for personal protection there is nothing better than a shotgun. Muhammed’s weapon was designed with one purpose in mind: killing. It was built with a soldier in mind.

Like anything else, campus shootings really didn’t sink in the first time around. Maybe we should have had this discussion in 1966 instead. The truth is that times have changed. As a kid, I can remember other students (fifth and sixth grade) bringing guns to school for show and tell. Here in West Virginia, it didn’t even seem to be that big of a deal, but we now live in a different world. Some people no longer seem to be inclined to solve their problems with their fists or over a cup of coffee. There is only one way to prevent the Texas and Virginia Tech disasters from happening again: guns have to be banned on college campuses.

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