(ThinkStock Photos)There aren't enough guns in schools-that's what two bills proposed last month by Arizona representative Jack Harper seem to suggest. If signed into law, HB 2001 would allow faculty members the right to bear arms on college campuses across Arizona. HB 2014, Harper's second bill, would allow students to also carry guns on campus. Before Saturday, the proposed legislation may have slipped by national news outlets but in light of the tragic shootings in Tucson, it's a central talking point in the debate over Arizona's gun laws.
Shortly after Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others were shot outside a Tucson supermarket, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik pointed to Harper's bills, saying: "The legislature at this time is proposing that students and teachers be allowed to have weapons in schools and in college...that's the ridiculous state to where we have become."
For Dupnik and many others, more lax gun policies lead to more tragic shootings. But state Senator Karen Johnson, who proposed a version of the bill in 2008, thinks just the opposite. She argues an armed student or faculty member could thwart a potential unhinged school shooter opening fire on campus.
Politics aside, that seems a tall order for students more concerned with rushing fraternities and passing Organic Chemistry. Shouldn't campus security rest in the hands of the institution, not its students?
Then there's the fact that they are students-44 percent of whom admit to binge drinking. That percentage is likely higher at, say, Arizona State University, consistently ranked the country's number one party school. Adding a culture of guns to the mix of a city-sized population built around experimentation, self-discovery and straight-up intoxication seems a toxic proposition. Some students agreed and launched a Facebook campaign against the bill when it was first proposed by Johnson in 2008. But others fear for their own safety and have expressed the need to protect themselves in public class settings, even if that means carrying a loaded weapon.
One student who may have an interesting perspective on the topic is 52-year-old Linda Sorensen, the woman in gunman Jared Lee Loughner's algebra class at Pima Community College. In emails to friends, she describes her foreshadowing fear of Loughner:
"He is one of those whose picture you see on the news, after he has come into class with an automatic weapon. Everyone interviewed would say, Yeah, he was in my math class and he was really weird. I sit by the door with my purse handy. If you see it on the news one night, know that I got out fast..."Would she have felt safer if she or her classmates had a gun in class? Would you?
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