Handguns on campus would provoke violence
Published: Monday, January 28, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 00:01
With security questions looming in light of recent events on schools across the state and country, it has become increasingly salient to look towards the idea of handguns on campus. I, personally, have never shot or held a gun in my life – at least, not to my recollection, but memory acquisition is an entirely different topic. To be entirely honest, I do not believe that allowing guns on campus is a good option for any school much less one in Southern Texas.
Currently, Texas is one of only 21 states that ban carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Now, I do not think that this express ban deters every single person from carrying a concealed handgun, but this really isn’t the issue.
Regardless if it is being used for attack or defense, use of a gun is still a violent act (I am not going to attempt to say that guns kill people – that’s ridiculous). Estimates from the Center for Disease Control show that roughly 31,000 Americans each year are killed by guns.
A research study led by SHSU College of Criminal Justice professor Jeffrey Bouffard reports that more students are uncomfortable with the thought of concealed handguns on campus than that are; the average student reporting comfort level at 39 on a scale of 0-100 (0 being not comfortable at all, 100 being very comfortable). The same research yielded similar results on a campus in Washington State.
The problem with allowing concealed handguns to be carried on campus is more than defense. It’s more than charged language geared toward raising your American ideals of freedom and rights infringement. This issue gets to the heart of what guns are used for – violence.
Social psychology attempts to get at the heart of this issue with what is known as the “weapons effect.” The weapons effect, as coined by psychologists Leonard Berkowitz and Anthony LePage, is a phenomenon in which people become more aggressive when merely in the presence of a gun or weapon. In the original study, when aggressive stimuli such as a shotgun and revolver were present in the room, it was more likely that the participants would engage in more aggressive behaviors than non-aggressive stimuli such as a badminton racquets and shuttlecocks (who coined THAT word).
This also translates to the real world in traffic aggression for people who carry guns in their cars as well as for people who simply see a gun on another’s car! According to psychologist Brad Bushman, only being exposed to the word “gun” for 17/100 of a second makes people more aggressive. Furthermore, 65 studies have confirmed this phenomenon in angry and non-angry individuals.
This is more than a simple rights infringement. It’s more than freedom, it’s more than defense. This is about protection on a larger basis. If seeing the word “gun” increases aggression in people just think of having 20,000 students walking around campus with their pockets burning. With frustration from homework and classes already high, we don’t need another instigator towards aggression or violence on college campuses – plain and simple.
Take the recent events at Lone Star – as tragic as they were – it is clearly visible that something more could easily happen. Arguments turn violent too easily to begin with – why make them more violent?
As Leonard Berkowitz said, “Guns not only permit violence, they can stimulate it as well. The finger pulls the trigger, but the trigger may also be pulling the finger.”