The following piece, written by the editorial editors, reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
Tomorrow at 1 p.m. a group of armed students — led by concealed carry activist Jeffrey Smith — will be holding an open-carry protest on Miami’s campus. The goal, per Smith, is to open a dialogue wherein people on campus may express their concerns and thoughts on the prospect of legalizing concealed carry.
Dialogue? Carrying on a dialogue with protestors who have firearms on their person seems to be problematic, to say the least. If it is a dialogue they wish for, why not gather in Wilkes Theater and hold an open forum?
Instead, the protestors have decided to impose upon our otherwise calm campus a tangible fear. Fear does not bring about dialogue, it hinders discussion. It polarizes those participating, forcing them to a position where they are all for the concealed carry (the protestors) or against it (those who disapprove of the protest).
Last December, The New York Times published their first front-page editorial in close to 100 years on the gun epidemic in America, commenting that, “it is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection.” This rhetoric is indicative of what might be said in a forum, as it offers a chance for dissenting opinions to give their reasoning.
The concern at hand here, though, is not whether concealed carry should be legal, or even if guns should be sold. We must focus on the march, which will effect most of us directly.
A college campus is indeed a center for critical thinking in which one can immerse himself in a sea of differing opinions. But, above all, it is a safe learning zone, free from violence and chastisement for holding a different opinion. At least, it should be.
Recent tragedies would show otherwise, though. Last February, Larry Tipton shot and killed his girlfriend, Rebecca Eldemire, in a murder-suicide. Hindsight is 20-20, so remarking that the absence of a firearm would have changed the situation seems banal. The issue here has more to do with a disgruntled man who wanted to inflict pain.
This same anger flows through the veins of many a student Uptown on the weekends. The culprit: alcohol. When drunk, people are prone to get angry and, if enough testosterone is flowing, get into fights.
Factor in a gun on a Saturday — when Beat the Clock is in full swing — and you have a recipe for drunken disaster.
We should never have to look back on a potential tragedy and discuss what could have been done to prevent it. Rather, we should have the foresight to prevent such things from ever occurring.
Thus, the reasons become clear why guns are simply not conducive to the environment of a college campus. This march may not necessarily be dangerous in itself, but what it stands for certainly is.
College is a place designed to foster growth and education through the open debate and unforced dialogue that has been the staple of higher education for years. This dedication to ideas is and always has been one of the essential goals of universities.
The introduction of guns, tools intended only to kill and destroy, are incompatible with this goal. Guns are a physical manifestation of real power, the power to kill, concentrated in the hands of the gun holder. When the balance of power shifts so dramatically to one side of the debate as guns are introduced to campus, the debate fails to live up to higher educational standards.
Rather, fear and uncertainty dominate the campus and dissuade any healthy debate to occur. This march represents one side attempting to commandeer that power, and the loss of power for everyone else involved.
People can be assured by marchers of their good intentions and commitment to safety, but that assurance does not erase the emotions that are evoked when one lays eyes on a gun. We understand the marchers’ desire to create a debate surrounding gun rights, but such a debate should not begin at the end of a barrel.