ASU: The new Wild West?

Published On:
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Printer-friendly version

State Sen. Jack Harper suggests professors should have the right to carry guns on campus.

We suggest not pissing off your professor.

Last week, a bill to give some university and community college professors the right to carry concealed firearms on campus was introduced in the state Senate.

The reason for the bill may be simple on the surface. Putting guns in the hands of some professors — who have concealed carry permits, of course — not only upholds the Second Amendment, it arguably adds an important layer of defense if there is a hostile gun situation on campus.

But here’s the caveat — the benefits are arguable. Does adding a gun to an already violent situation help or hurt?

Harper said allowing professors to carry guns could have changed the outcome of a 2002 UA shooting, in which four people were killed, including the gunman.

It could have prevented three deaths, but it also could have added to the number. It most certainly would have added to confusion in an already-volatile situation.

Michael Berch, an ASU law professor, warned guns on campus would increase accidents, not benefits.

Unlike police officers, permit holders are not required to go through weeks and weeks of training to respond to high-intensity situations. If someone pulls a gun in a classroom, would professors have the ability to respond in the best way? Or would professors become automatic targets?

An anxious professor taking a shot at a gunman in a crowded lecture hall would have major consequences — a missed shot could hurt the situation, not help.

Even in non-hostile situations, carrying a gun may lead to an accidental discharge.

Accidents happen, and accidents with guns are often deadly.

Arizona is one of the most lax states in relation to gun laws — a relic from the glory days of the Wild West. Clearly firearms have a place near and dear to the hearts of many Arizonans, and a place clearly outlined in the Constitution.

But Arizona should be wary of passing a gun law for the sake of asserting the right to have guns.

Though John Wayne shoot-‘em-up movies might show us how the West was won, Arizona is not a vigilante state, and we have the police presence to prove it.

ASU is not only served by the Tempe Police Department, but by our own campus police force. Police officers are on campus, armed and ready, every day — a benefit that not all college campuses have.

Student safety is certainly and understandably a major concern, one that we appreciate the Legislature for addressing. But before arming professors, the risks and benefits need to be clearly sorted out.

But it wouldn’t hurt to start getting on their good sides now.