The Second Amendment is under assault on American college campuses.
While many institutions implement total gun bans, Stanford University student Devon Zeugel wants concealed carry.
The news is saturated with stories and opinions on guns, and the attention on the issue is heightened with this past year’s dramatic shootings in Aurora and Newtown. Understandably, the response to these horrors involves great emotion. However, in our dialogue about violence and gun ownership, we need to set aside our fears and biases and look at where the facts lead us.
Here in the Bay Area, the general response to gun ownership is an automatic “no,” and the Stanford campus is no exception. Our campus sees minimal violence and our main exposure to firearms is through the news, where killings are stories rather than the cases with peaceful endings.
This anti-gun bias is reflected in campus policy and state law. On its website, Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) states that “all [firearms] are prohibited on Stanford Campus … except for sworn police officers,” and California has mandated absolute firearm bans on all college campuses. These policies assume that guns are fundamentally harmful. Remembering that a weapon is simply a powerful tool that can be used for self-defense as well as for harm, we need to reconsider Stanford’s “Gun-Free Zone” policy….
According to a 1997 study of National Crime Victimization Survey data by PhD criminologist Gary Kleck, “robbery and assault victims who used a gun to resist were less likely to be attacked or to suffer an injury than those who did not resist at all or those who used any other methods of self-protection.” The probability of serious injury to a female victim is 2.5 times greater when no resistance is offered and 4 times greater when resistance is offered without a gun. The same study showed similar trends for male victims, though the magnitude of the statistics was diminished.
As a 5’ 3” girl, I am going to need a better tool than my fists if I get grabbed one night on the way home from my physics lab. Some friends of mine carry mace or Tasers for this very reason. While they are better tools than wrestling, they can be ineffective and even counterproductive. Pepper spray can rebound into its user’s eyes to disable his along with his assailant; one-use only, Tasers are ineffective against more than one assailant and don’t work through thick clothing; and both have a very limited range.
Zeugel concludes that the fear campaign against gun ownership is undermining her safety.
Violence elicits particularly strong fears and emotions. When discussing the role of guns in our society, we need to rein in those fears and emotions, base our decisions off of facts and statistics, and remember that guns are tools that can save lives, too.