Letter to the Editor: Common Sense In Gun Debate

By Joanna S. Coolidge, Senior, Pre-Med


I am disturbed by some of the letters published in this paper supporting the right to bear arms on campus. It seems that I may not be living in an open-minded community, as I once thought. I have been at the U full-time since last August, and every student I meet here is friendly and enthusiastic. Yet I read letters to the editor from people who sound absolutely paranoid and hateful. Who are these guys, anyway?

I don’t mind guns, I rather like them. I recently bought a rifle. My shooting buddies call it “high speed therapy,” and it is fun and relaxing. This is very different from what we are discussing here.

I don’t even mind having guns on campus. If faculty and other employees of the U are able to carry concealed weapons, it might make me feel “safer,” not that I have any fear of anyone here anyway. I do see some, just some, logic in the idea that if someone with bad intent thinks that their opponent is armed, they might refrain from violence?assuming they are thinking rationally, which I doubt of anyone who is considering grievous bodily harm. So, let the faculty arm themselves if they think it is necessary; teaching has become a dangerous profession in America. I’m not going to speculate why, but it is interesting that while in some countries the government kills teachers, here, the students do.

The bottom line is I do not want students to carry guns on campus. Why? Students are usually young people under a tremendous amount of pressure. This leads to unpredictable events of many types, some of them deadly. Students ranging from high school (Columbine, etc.) to graduate school (recent shooting at a Virginia law school) have committed murder using guns in response to social and academic pressures they felt at school.

Universities around the county report suicides every year. My senior year at my first alma mater, a very small school, a girl killed herself after stabbing her roommate to death. What if she had owned a gun? Guns are a very simple and efficient means of killing or otherwise expressing frustration and anger through violence. I do not want them in the hands of a demographic with a high rate of occurrence of psychologically unstable behavior, especially when I am living among it.

But what about my safety? I am a woman of average height and build. I feel absolutely safe, even walking from the Marriott Library to the engineering parking lot after the library closes at midnight, because I know that the specter of the “bad guy” or “evil stranger” that gun-rights advocates would have me necessarily arm myself against is a myth. Our biggest danger is each other. I read The Chronicle almost every day, and from the police bulletin reports I can confidently deduce that I am more likely to have my bicycle stolen than be mugged. How is a gun going to help me there? Who wants to mug a student? Even street criminals know we don’t have any money and that they are more likely to get away in a busy area such a as a shopping mall or supermarket lot.

And, as for the scary rapist hiding behind a tree waiting to jump out at me, he is more likely to be the friendly, smiling guy at a party or club handing me a drink which he has spiked. How is a gun going to help he there? It’s not. Most rape victims are at least acquainted with their assailants. The way to be safe is to be aware. Guns do not improve our safety, we do, by using our heads. I have taken my share of American history classes, and I am a descendent of the people who created this government, and I don’t think our founding fathers would put this issue at the top of their list of grievances if they took a look at how things are now.

Your rights are not being violated if you have to leave your gun in your car for a little while, or at home. You can still own it. Nobody is going to take your precious piece of jewelry away from you. We are just asking you to have some common sense.

Joanna S. Coolidge, Senior, Pre-Med