I’m pleased to be writing my first piece for Innermost Parts. My name is Phil LaCombe, and I’m involved with many activist causes on campus. last semester, I formed a group with other students, Students Opposing the Decision to Arm.
I have been displeased by our university’s decision to arm the campus police since the day the decision was made. I felt that adding more guns to campus would only disrupt our sense of mutual trust within the community, and still do. Unfortunately, in the wake of the Virginia Tech strategy, many campuses feel that their only choice to making their campuses safe and healthy environments is to arm the campus safety officers.
I read this article on The Arizona Republic today that the administrators of Arizona State University have gone a step further to “protect” their campus–they will arm their public safety officers with military-style assault rifles. What I see developing across this country is a profound sense of fear. No one feels safe from violence any more, even on our college campuses, where environments are supposedly well controlled to keep students healthy and happy. Another thing I see is a coming arms race between campuses and campus shooters. The assault rifles ban expired in 2004, and with that expiration we opened up our country to greater, more severe violence. The campus police do not have a monopoly on military-grade weaponry. Campus shooters will likely respond to the escalations made by the police, and arm themselves with more dangerous weapons. In my opinion, it comes down to a simple fact: more guns do not equal more safety.
In order to protect our campus communities from violence, we need to go to the root causes. What causes a young person to feel so abandoned and so conflicted with his peers that he chooses to take their lives? Pistols and assault rifles will do nothing to heal the wounds of a young person in distress. We can continue to arm in hopes of protecting our community in the event of an attack, but that is only accepting the idea that attacks must happen. We need to heal the whole community.