The University of Central Arkansas may be headed away from today’s rush to tote pistols so as to be ready for violence on campuses, in churches and other places.
President Tom Courtway, the UCA Faculty and the school’s police chief have come out in opposition to a bit of legislation in the current General Assembly that would allow colleges to approve firearms on campus. Holders of concealed carry permits could take their pistols to class, to labs and to gym workouts.
Our thinking is right in line with Courtway et al.
UCA needs to be gun-free. So does Hendrix and so does Central Baptist. In no way are we in the ranks of those who want complete elimination of firearms, but there is a time and place for the legitimate possession and use of pistols, rifles and shotguns — and a college campus is not the place.
A professor packing a pistol just does not grab us as desirable. Should this professor be so equipped, do we really think he or she could or would stop a crazy who walks into the room with an assault rifle or a handgun or a pipe bomb? Is a student with a permit sitting in a lecture going to whip out a gun and stop an attack?
Neither is likely.
What is much more apt to occur is a teacher being extremely nervous and distracted knowing that somewhere in the room or hall full of students are a few who are packing guns. If the teacher says, “Today we will have a pop quiz,” will another kind of pop take place?
Just keep guns off the campus. Period. No exceptions. No special cases or privileged persons.
Some UCA students are hunters, and hunting is a legitimate use of firearms. The campus, though, is not a field with game animals that may be in season. A sophomore business major may want to get in a little squirrel hunting in the afternoon when classes are over, and this is fine. But that sophomore should not have a .22 rifle or a shotgun on campus, not even in the trunk of a car or behind the seat of a pickup.
Possibly, just possibly, consideration could be given a secure storage facility to meet this scenario or for a dormitory resident who hunts or who competes in skeet shooting. If there is such a need, the UCA Police Department would seem to be logical, and it is in operation around the clock so the hunter who gets back after dark or who gets out before dawn could be accommodated.
Nationwide, we are in too much of a dither over changing the rules on guns. Yes, there have been tragedies such as the mass shootings and the more numerous one-on-one killings with firearms. But virtually all the dialogue and the few instances of action in the form of new laws have been aimed at the implements, the firearms, and not at the perpetrators, the violently angered and the mentally unstable who make use of guns.
At UCA and other campuses, the surroundings are thick with people in their late teens and early 20s. Life is changing for these folks. Doors are opening. Opportunities are coming into view. Older persons who have the assets of experience and education are on campuses to direct and nourish the students.
Neither students or faculty, nor any one else on campus, should have to contend with the volatile issue of firearms nearby.