The discussion of bringing a gun to school often ends with a tragic headline. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook—we all remember the first mass shooting that reminded us of our vulnerability during our years of pursuing an education. In the wake of yet another tragedy, two Missouri state senators are repealing the ban of concealed weapons on college campuses—all while ignoring the ongoing battles some students must face every day.
Sen. Bob Dixon and Sen. Brian Munzlinger fail to address the epidemic of racial discrimination toward students of color within our state’s school system. The mishandling of countless incidents of racism at Mizzou has created an unwelcoming, hostile, and generally unsympathetic environment toward their ongoing torment. When students of color are too afraid to leave their dorm rooms to attend class, these senators wish to introduce the open carrying of firearms within the community that issues death threats on a daily basis.
Our privileged community is finally waking up to the harsh realities of the persecution minorities face daily. The tensions that boiled over in the wake of Ferguson were not a result of a spontaneous combustion, but the byproduct of years of oppression, which many of us choose to ignore if it doesn’t directly affect us. The recent Mizzou protests and demonstrations serve as further proof of the inability of authoritative figures to properly handle racist incidents on college campuses.
According to Mizzou senior Alanna Diggs, “many [students] behind the scenes have been suffering and struggling with administration and students while trying to deal with class and work.”
When a crowd of white people at a homecoming game tell a group of African-American protesters to “get over it,” referring to racism, you get a clear picture of why college diversity is diminishing.
Minority enrollment at East Central College makes up a mere 4% of the student body. According to Community College Review, this gives ECC a diversity score of 0.08, which is considerably less than the national average of 0.53. To further put our school’s lack of diversity into perspective, we have a student body consisting of 96% white students and only 1% Asian, 1% Hispanic, 1% Black, and 1% of other races.
As a society, we often treat guns as totems that fetishize the ability to ward off danger with a point and a click. In reality, these totems manifest the danger they are supposed to protect us from, especially without proper security measures in place. Dropping guns into a warzone will always result in casualties.
The state of the gun ban will never stop those intent on committing harm to those undeserving. Campus security’s golf carts cannot outrun the average bullet, which travels at 1,700 mph. Our surveillance system is incapable of seeing through bags and pockets. An open-carry advocate with poor sight and something to prove won’t save everyone in the room. Outside of a daily pat down and cavity search, the threat will always be present. Even a nationwide gun ban is incapable of preventing mass violence.
Since 2006, motor vehicle deaths have been in a rabid decline thanks to the aggressive health and safety regulation of motor vehicles. According to a recently conducted study by the Violence Policy Center (VPC), more Missourians were killed by guns than automobile accidents in 2014. A staggering 943 fatalities were the result of a firearm in 2014, while only 801 people were killed in motor vehicle related accidents. Gun deaths have exceeded motor vehicle deaths in 20 more states, as well as the District of Columbia. While our daily commute has gotten safer, our education has come under fire—in more ways than one.
The issue is not about guns; it’s about common sense. In communities such as our own, which are historically white, something must be done to increase diversity in higher education. The open carry ban-lift on college campuses may very well be the final nail in the coffin of our heterogeneous society. College exists not only as an educational tool to secure a future, but as a means to build one’s character, a persona capable of cohabiting in a complex world. When guns are introduced, intimidation sets in. No longer are we peers, but enemies with the power to make each other vanish.
When some of the loudest advocates for open carry struggle to pass English Comp I, we have to ask ourselves: is our student body really deserving of holding such power? With guns holstered in every class room, here becomes a disconnect between everyone on campus. No longer is there a desire to develop a deeper understanding of ideas foreign and new–such as racial discrepancies. A lively debate can turn into bloodbath at the drop of a dime, or the fear of that outcome may prevent debates from even starting. Cognitive growth is stunted, attention spans wane and we further digress into a state of segregation in the name of “safety.”