by Tyler Aragao
Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook. Three schools out of hundreds in the United States that have been victims of gun violence. These three are also the sites of some of the deadliest shootings in America with 15 deaths at Columbine, 33 at Virginia Tech and 28 at Sandy Hook.
Since 2013 there have been 215 school shootings in the United States, an average of one per week, according to the website EveryTownResearch.com, and those incidents are widespread. From Maine to Florida and across the country to Oregon and Washington, from big cities like Philadelphia to small towns like Butte, Montana, incidents involving guns and schools happen nationwide. Some of these incidents are fatal, some accidental, some major and some minor but the bottom line is there is a problem involving guns and schools.
With such a glaring problem, what exactly has the United States done to prevent future incidents? Many controversial methods have been proposed. One is the arming of school teachers. This controversial idea of having guns in schools is supported by Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education. During her confirmation hearing she was questioned about whether guns belong in schools by Connecticut Senator and advocate for gun control Chris Murphy. Murphy asked DeVos, “If President-elect Trump moves forward with his plan to ban gun-free school zones, will you support that proposal?” DeVos replied, “I will support what the president-elect does.”
With Trump being a vocal supporter of the Second Amendment it is more likely than not that gun policies in general won’t be getting stricter. During a campaign rally in Burlington Vermont, Trump made it clear he believes citizens should be armed. “I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools, and — you have to — and on military bases. My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones.” Trump’s gun rhetoric goes back to the beginning of his campaign. In October 2015 Trump said in response to a shooting at a community college in Oregon. “Let me tell you, if you had a couple teachers with guns in that room, you would have been a hell of a lot better off.”
Some states already allow students to carry concealed firearms.Texas, Utah, Tennessee, Idaho, and Colorado allow students to conceal and carry. Five other states allow for concealed firearms; however schools limit the location and who can carry them. Those states are Oregon, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. Overall, ten states in the union allow for college students to conceal and carry. On the other hand, ten states prohibit guns completely. California, New Mexico, Wyoming, Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts all have banned concealed guns on campus. Ten states allow for concealed guns, ten states don’t. As for the other 30 the law varies. Some states determine their own gun policies while others have strict restrictions on where guns can be kept.
In the state of New Hampshire there is no specific law regarding the limitations of concealed firearms on college and university campuses. In 2012, the New Hampshire Legislature proposed to allow guns on campus but the bill died in the Senate. As of August 21st, 2013, no public or private university permits concealed guns on campus grounds. However, recent legislation signed on February 22nd, 2017, by Governor Chris Sununu will no longer requires licenses to carry a concealed weapon in the state of New Hampshire.
Here at Franklin Pierce University, administrator Jim Earle described it as “not an issue.”
“As a private university, our policy has been and will continue to be the same, regardless of recent legislation. Guns are strictly forbidden,” said Earle.
Professor Christina Cliff, a Humanities professor at Franklin Pierce doesn’t believe the arming of teachers would be beneficial. “With the variations in state laws, with there being absolutely no federal requirements for training in order to own a firearm, at this time I do not support allowing teachers and students to carry firearms (either as open-carry or concealed). And because there are no clear training/skills requirement.” Cliff, however, was not against the private ownership of firearms but said she doesn’t agree with the concept of them being carried in an educational environment.
“I have no faith in that allowing faculty to carry firearms would potentially prevent a school shooting. This does not preclude the option for having trained, armed security guards on a campus or in a school, but again, I would emphasize the need for very specific training,” said Cliff
Despite the controversy guns in school are becoming more popular. According to a report by the Washington Post districts in Utah, Ohio and Oklahoma were working towards implementing similar policies of allowing teachers to carry guns.
While states continue to deliberate on new legislation and while little has been done in Congress only time will tell when America will finally look itself in the mirror and figure out this problem.