As the University of Dallas begins to wrap up its 2015 fall semester, it is already looking ahead to next fall and the issues that will have to be addressed by then. Chief among these is the need to address the matter of concealed handguns on campus. With the new Texas law coming into effect next year, the university now has the option to allow licensed students to carry concealed weapons on campus. Mass shootings, especially at schools, have increased at a disturbing rate and the overwhelming majority of the shootings have occurred in gun-free zones. At the same time, the number of gun-related accidents rises have with increased gun ownership. How, then, can the school address these concerns while still ensuring student safety?
On a purely pragmatic level, it seems clear that CSO needs to be trained and mandated to carry a gun on them at all times. If we can learn anything from the recent school shootings, it is that they are unpredictable. We can no longer trust as we have in the past that no one will turn to that kind of horrific violence here. The shooters have all been people whom no one suspected, and their victims all lived under the ultimately false assumption that “it only happens in other places.” Having armed CSO officers would serve both as a deterrent and a countermeasure to a potential shooters.
That said, allowing students to go about campus armed is an entirely different matter. Even if we ignore that a lot of people will be nervous to know that their classmates are armed, the potential dangers are too great. Too many students here do not know how to properly handle guns and it is all too easy to imagine this inexperience combined with a few too many drinks escalating into a deadly misfire. The ongoing theft problem this year exacerbates the fear of guns ending up in the hands of those who don’t know whether the red dot means the safety is on or off.
Even worse, seeing someone with a gun on campus will no longer seem a threat in situations where a threat is actually present. There is a real danger of those who would use a gun for ill intent not being recognized as such simply because they have a license. Gun education may be key to resolving these issues, but it is unrealistic to expect the school to mandate that for everyone and safer to simply not allow it to become an issue in the first place.
School shootings are terrifying and measures need to be taken to ensure that they do not happen here. Hopefully the school is able to come up with a policy that ensures student safety from these tragedies while not increasing the danger of gun accidents on campus.