Guns don't kill people; yes they do.

This week, some students at the University Tennessee will wear empty gun holsters to protest the laws and campus policies that prohibit the university community from carrying handguns on campus. Even if someone has a concealed handgun carry license, he or she still may not bring the weapon on a school campus.

Some students want to be permitted to carry a handgun as a form of self-defense, and "the only time you're authorized to shoot is when someone is attacking you," Nathan Robinson, a UT senior, told the Knoxville News-Sentinel.


Guns are just a bad idea on college campuses in so many ways.

Students are young and thus pretty irresponsible. So are most non-students, yes, but if thousands of foolish, brash 20-somethings can be prevented from carrying weapons, then I think they should be.

Put those guns in the context of any number of campus parties that take place on a weekend. At any given point on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, hundreds of students can be crammed into a fraternity house, a bar, a dorm — what happens if someone get belligerent and whips out a gun? What if someone's gun goes off accidentally? What if someone's gun gets stolen without them noticing?

If we lived in an ideal world, maybe concealed carry would be OK. But we don't live in an ideal world. College campuses are rife with drugs and violence, whether anyone wants to admit that. Add guns to the mix, and that's a scary climate. People get drunk all the time, people smoke or do other drugs; who's to say they're not going to get completely trashed, lose most/all/some sense of good judgment and shoot someone for the hell of it? What about petty bar fights? Or arguments that may not be very serious but could escalate quickly if someone pulled out a gun?

But then there's the other side: Would those 25 (reported) rapes on Tennessee campuses have occurred if the women had guns? (Would they have become more violent if the perpetrator did too?) Would killing sprees like the one at Virginia Tech be headed off if a student or professor could shoot an aggressor in self-defense or to protect others? Would robberies continue to decrease if people knew there was a greater threat to them for stealing something?

It's really naive and presumptuous, Mr. Robinson, to say that you're only authorized to shoot when someone is attacking you. That would never happen. It doesn't happen in the real world; why would college campuses be any different? Carrying guns won't add to campus safety; it would just make people more wary and on edge.

Vanderbilt has about 6,000 undergraduate students. If just half of them chose to carry handguns, that's 3,000 deadly weapons in the hands of irresponsible young adults in a very, very small area. Add to those numbers graduate students, faculty and staff, and the concentration of weapons would be pretty scary.

Allowing members of campus communities to carry guns just doesn't seem like it would reduce the risk of violent crime, theft, anything. If anything, it seems to me that it would increase an atmosphere of discomfort and just heighten distrust among students. The laws keeping guns off campus are there for a reason, anyhow.

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