Rise in campus shootings: Why the increase and who should be armed?

By Abigail-Lauren Meredith, News Editor –
A total of 133 mass shooting have occurred between January 2009 and July 2015 in 39 states. That’s a rate of almost two per month.

The rise in college campus shootings over the past few years has caused unrest over the U.S. gun control laws on college campuses. The campus shootings in Roseburg and Flagstaff have again raised two questions: “Why has gun-related violence increased on college campuses?” and “Who, if anyone, should be allowed to carry guns on campus?”

Current Michigan law states that concealed firearms are not allowed in classrooms or dormitories of colleges, community colleges, or universities. However, Michigan State University ruled in June 2009 that permit the concealed carry of a firearms on university property, but prohibit them in campus buildings and dormitories.

The University of Michigan prohibits all firearms from being carried on campus with the exception of law enforcement, military personnel, and for teaching purposes. U-M argued in a recent court hearing that for more than 150 years, as a matter of state constitutional law, universities have the right to manage and control their own property. This case was sparked by a U-M student who was denied a waiver by the university to carry his firearm on campus.

The most influential legislation currently being discussed in the Michigan Legislature are Senate Bill 442 and 561 which would prohibit the open carry of firearms and permit the concealed carry of firearms in schools, building, dormitories, stadiums, and other venues. This essentially swaps the current gun laws which state that the concealed carry of fire arms is prohibited, but the open carry of firearms is permitted.

Sponsors of the new bills, like Sen. Mike Green (R- Mayville) argue that concealed pistol license carriers are “law-abiding citizens” and would actually be helping out with safety of college and university campuses. Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren) counters this statement with a study done by Everytown for Gun Safety that suggested most mass shootings occurred in private residences where carrying firearms is permitted.

College and university students are beginning to get involved in the conversation about gun control on campus. U-M students hosted a discussion about gun control on campus to discuss possible solutions to the issues, and differed their own insights on the impact of guns in their individual lives.

One topic was how dominant ideologies and beliefs within American culture affect the public perception of mass shootings and gun control. One group of students said that social media often attaches narratives to shootings which reflect the public opinion of certain ethnicities. For example, a white male shooter is often characterized as suffering from mental illness, whereas, a black student is described as being part of a gang. They proposed that such perception influence how legislation will approach gun control laws.

At MCC, President Dale Nesbary’s opinion on the increase of gun-related violence on college campuses is that closing mental health facilities has led to criminal behavior of people who formerly did not exhibit such behaviors. (The next issue of The Bay Window will explore mental health as a societal issue not only relating to violence, but also to other aspects affecting students.)

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