A few days ago, tragedy struck Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore. An active shooter attacked the student body in broad daylight, leaving 10 dead and at least 13 injured.
The shooter asked students whether or not they were Christians before beginning the massacre, executing them immediately if their answer was “yes.” So as students on a small Christian campus, we should feel safe and secure — right?
Wayne LaPierre, American author and gun rights advocate, once said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.”
His common sense is to be commended.
Self-defense is not only a constitutional right. It is a human right. Self-preservation in the face of evil is not a matter of law. My ability to defend those I love from violent attacks should not depend on geography or public policy. I do not wish to place the safety of my friends and family in the hands of those who are more concerned with a political agenda than protecting our privileges and immunities.
But because I am a law-abiding citizen of integrity, I have to do just that.
I am a college student and a United States citizen. The Supreme Court of the United States — alongside a plethora of lower courts since the 1960s — have reaffirmed time and time again through landmark cases like “McDonald v. Chicago” and “Heller v. The District of Columbia” that I and other law-abiding citizens possess a uniquely American liberty protected by the Second and Fourteenth Amendment. A liberty allowing both the ownership and possession of firearms for purposes including, but not limited to, the defense of self, fellow man and state. A liberty that I choose as a free, law-abiding American and Christian to exercise on a daily basis.
Almost anywhere I go, so goes my firearm. I’m not a bloodthirsty killer. As a matter of fact, I pray on a daily basis that I will never be placed in a situation in which the extrication of evil and preservation of innocence will require me to take a human life. But we live in a fallen world. One of violence and despair in places we never would have imagined just generations ago. This being said, I do all that I can to ensure those around me remain safe and free.
But as a college student, I leave my liberty at the edge of campus. My family and I are forced to forfeit our means of preserving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for a lie — a lie that says “school is a safe place.” That I now live in some sort of impenetrable safety bubble, immune to the massacres that plague the rest of 21st century America. In reality, when I’m on campus, I’m more vulnerable than ever.
Huntington University trumpets its bright, virtually crimeless history — with good reason, of course — and continually reassures students, parents and prospectives that it remains one of the safest campuses in the U.S. And in my student handbook, the administration has generously provided us with an “Active Shooter Protocol” that “advocates preparedness for this type of incident and pro-actively instructs members on the A.L.I.C.E. (Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Escape) principle of responding to an active shooter.” The most important line contained in the protocol?
“NOTE: An individual must use his/her own discretion during an active shooter event as to whether he/she chooses to run to safety or remain in place.”
The university does an excellent job reminding me that my safety is ultimately up to me and ensuring me that it is incapable of providing for my safety in the case of this very real threat. But it does an even better job at making sure I’m incapable of protecting myself. In the event of an active-shooter scenario, the shooter will undoubtedly have the upper-hand.
The average police response time in the U.S. is 10 minutes. That’s how long it took investigators from the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg police departments to respond to the Virginia Tech shooting. In that time, thirty-two people died and 17 were seriously wounded — the consequence of solely trusting the police with our safety.
Yes, gun regulations are important. There needs to be legal stumbling blocks in the path of those who wish to illegally acquire weapons. But completely disallowing individuals from their constitutional right? That’s ideological, not practical. Utah is an example of a state that realizes this.
In Utah, it has been deemed unconstitutional for an institution of higher education to prohibit students from legally carrying a firearm. Students can carry either concealed or openly, and concerned students can request to not live in dorms with anyone who has a permit to carry. None of these schools have seen gun violence. Certainly there are other variables, but it remains true that more guns does not mean more crime.
Gun-free zones create an environment in which the wolves of society can and will thrive. Contrarily, many colleges in the U.S. that allow students to carry under reasonable regulations have effectively provided an avenue for students to actually remain secure in dangerous situations.
For now, I will continue to abide by the policies of the university. I will leave my means of protection at home. I will leave my constitutional right at home. I will remain vulnerable to the same kind of evil that struck Oregon this week. And my mom will continue to sit at home and worry as she dishes out money to an institution that refuses to provide an avenue for my safety in light of 21st century threats.
Darius Hillman is a sophomore criminal justice major. This letter reflects the opinion of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the view of the university or The Huntingtonian. All letters to the editor can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.