Dear Dennis McCuistion,
In your editorial discussing Senate Bill 11, you state that campus carry will make college campuses safer. Increasing the number of guns, however, does not simultaneously decrease the number of times those guns are used. In fact, campus carry does the opposite of what you suggest; it promotes gun violence and risks the lives of anyone on a college campus. What we should really be focusing on is decreasing gun violence without necessarily increasing the amount of people carrying guns.
In June 2015, Governor Greg Abbott signed SB11, allowing any CHL holders to carry a weapon to class. The fact that you believe this will prevent gun violence suggest that you are anticipating gun violence, and that your big plan to combat gun violence is more gun violence. You state that the law wants to help prevent mass killings on university campuses. I can think of multiple, more effective ways to prevent the unnecessary deaths of innocent students and college professors. The first would be tighter gun-control laws. The fact that there is a direct link between gun ownership and firearm homicide, as shown in a 2013 publication in the American Journal of Public Health, cannot be ignored. Arguing against this by bringing up your CDC research and the different types of gun related deaths completely misses the point of your own editorial. If we are going to defend SB11 as a method of preventing gun violence on campuses, what good does it do to point out that not all gun violence are mass shootings. All of these numbers you toss into your argument are still human lives that are being lost at alarming rates. Additionally, the data you provide does not even add up, as you claim that the CDC reports 33,878 deaths, but then proceed to provide the following data: 11,208 firearm related homicides, 21,175 suicides, and 505 accidents, which adds up to 10 higher than the initial CDC report. Provided that you cannot relay simple numbers into your own argument, it is difficult to trust any of the other data you claim is accurate throughout your opinion piece. Besides, at a certain point this discussion goes beyond universities; it becomes a discussion of morality and whether or not we want to decrease the amount of gun violence everywhere.
This brings me to my second method of preventing shootings on college campuses. Keeping track of students’ and professors’ mental health as frequently as physical health would not only help decrease risk factors, but maintain a healthier populace in general. As Professor Emeritus Daniel Hamermesh pointed out, professors of large classes cannot possibly keep track of the warning signs coming from any one of their students. If students will be allowed to have guns on campus, as SB11 allows, they should be required to have mental check-ups along with physical check-ups. You mention that it is unlikely that CHL holders are unlikely to be involved in criminal activities, however the UCLA Higher Education Research Institution found that college students’ mental health is at its lowest since 1985. Jeffrey Swanson, a medical sociologist and professor of psychiatry at Duke University, performed a study that proved there is a link between the mentally unstable and violence, but continues to encourage fair treatment and non-discrimination. Therefore, the CHL holders at college campuses are much more at risk than the CHL holders that you reference in your piece. Providing counseling for students would therefore be great way to prevent gun violence, as well as improve their quality of life as a whole.
It is essential for the progression of society that we are able to recognize flaws and correct them. It is unacceptable that any lives must be lost due to loose regulations on guns that when there are so many ways to prevent these deaths. Why hand out more guns in hopes that a random CHL holder will be able to kill an attacker in a dangerous situation. Why not prevent someone capable of committing mass murder from ever reaching that point. We should be creating sustainable solutions, starting with tighter gun control laws and improving each other’s mental health. Increasing the number of guns being carried around in order to prevent gun violence is hardly a solution, and would only work from case to case. We can either fight fire with fire, or we can use water to put it out altogether.
Crisp, John M. “Arms in Class Too Risky for One Prof.” Dallas Morning News [Dallas], 2 Oct. 2015. Dallas News, http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2015/10/12/john-m.-crisp-arms-in-class-too-risky-for-one-prof.
Kitzrow, Martha Anne. “The Mental Health Needs of Today’s College Students: Challenges and Recommendations.” NASPA, vol. 41, no. 1, 2 Dec. 2003, pp. 167-81. Ebsco Student Research Center, naspa.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.2202/1949-6605.1310?scroll=top&needAccess=true. Accessed 27 Mar. 2017.
Konnikova, Maria. “Is There a Link between Mental Health and Gun Violence?” The New Yorker, 19 Nov. 2014, http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/almost-link-mental-health-gun-violence. Accessed 27 Mar. 2017.
Siegel, Michael, et al. “The Relationship Between Gun Ownership and Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States, 1981–2010.” AM J Public Health, Nov. 2013. National Center for Biotechnology Information, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3828709/. Accessed 27 Mar. 2017.