Gun laws must be driven by common sense - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Gun laws must be driven by common sense

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Posted: Saturday, January 21, 2012 2:02 pm

I'm a strong 2nd Amendment advocate, absolutely. But, every right and every law must be driven by common sense. The idea of opening up college campuses to guns cannot be reconciled with wisdom. Just ask those who will be forced to manage the consequences.

Last year, Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would allow students to carry guns on college/university campuses. Currently, all campuses forbid citizen firearms. Only campus security may carry. Issuing the veto put her in a tough spot with NRA lobbyists and certain 2nd Amendment supporters.

In light of horrific campus shootings around the nation, one would think the idea of an armed student body would meet with positive responses. Americans certainly have a right to defend themselves.

Imagination puts me under a desk, with a gunman taking out my fellow classmates. The thought shakes a person to the soul, and in my case I would agonize over my inability to protect myself as well as make a difference for those around me.

I've been blessed to train under champion shooters and find my confidence in regards to gun safety sustains my political opinion. However, I'm also a realist. As a whole, I realize few Americans have the same self-assurance and training.

This session, we learn several more, similar bills are in the pipeline. The first one is HB 2254, sponsored by Representatives Jack Harper and Carl Seel. They want college and university teachers to be able to pack on campus. At first glance, that seems to be logical.

A second measure apparently is forthcoming. It's a revision of last year's vetoed bill. Sen. Ron Gould is reportedly reworking his plan for students to carry.

Checking in with Steve Corich, director of public safety at Mesa Community College, we find what nightmares Gould, Harper and Seel are preparing for Arizona.

Students with guns put teachers on guard instead of encouraging vibrant, bold classroom situations, where students are encouraged to challenge ideas. Unease replaces imaginative teaching.

"Weapons on campus create a whole, other dimension," Corich says. "Currently officers try to be very understanding." But if there's a high potential of weapons, of suspects being better armed than police, he says, tactics will change.

My straw poll shows strong opposition from faculty. Barry Vaughn, spokesman for the Maricopa Community College Faculty Association, points out that faculty who carry would be viewed as protectors, as "quasi-law enforcement personnel ... contrary to the nature of higher education faculty." He says, "We are teachers and scholars, not police."

Something parents and students need to remember: Police and lives depend on clarity in a violent situation.

Steve Kadel, a gun owner, campus instructor and son and grandson of police officers, says: "I want my students to feel free to disagree with me and have vigorous debate in a weapons-free environment." In response to Gould's upcoming bill, Kadel says, "This is the most dangerously ill-conceived piece of legislation I have seen in my lifetime."

I'm grateful Arizona has a strong 2nd Amendment lobby. However, it will have far more credibility when it acknowledges the need for wisdom in all things. When it comes to an armed campus, my gut tells me there's a better way - not perfect, but better.

If what we really want are safer students, then allocate state funds to bulk up the campus forces already in place. Taxpayers will need to do that anyway should campus guns be allowed.

Most Arizonans support civil rights and rights of safety. This issue reaches far beyond that scope. In the course of life, unfortunately, we can't protect ourselves or our children from every danger. But, we can use our best shot to make sure we don't make it worse.

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