Every few weeks, my generally silent phone comes alive with multiple texts from friends. Where are you? Are you safe? Stay at home. Did you hear what happened by Ingraham? Get away from Union South. Guy with a gun on Bascom, get out now!
Violence and violent gun threats on campus seem to have drastically increased this semester, and it is going to take more than a few texts from friends to keep each other safe. The University of Wisconsin Police Department has been doing all it can to protect the students, but there will come a day where it may not be enough. So what then? Who can protect us from the inevitable?
The answer lies with our government, which within the first line of its founding document establishes the purpose of government: to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility and promote the general welfare of its constituents. In layman’s terms, the core reason for the existence of the government, both state and federal, is to protect the people at all costs.
In turn, Americans sacrifice individual freedoms, which is in alignment with philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract, aspects of which have been a part of America’s civic workings since conception. When followed closely, the Social Contract allows for longevity and efficiency in government. However, the Social Contract is in danger, and in turn, so are we.
For years now, there have been threats of passing a law which would allow UW System students to carry firearms throughout campus and within campus buildings without a permit. This diverges from current legislation, which permits concealed carry in Wisconsin, but not in any educational facility. Supporters of these measures claim that it is within their second amendment rights to carry a firearm wherever they want.
However, this brings up an even more crucial debate — are individual rights more important than greater safety? If the recent events on campus have shown anything, the influx of second amendment rights are a danger for students, regardless of the position they take on this debate. The greater amount of guns on campus, the larger chance of there is of violence, and eventual student casualties.
Campus carry on UW campus is dangerous for a variety of reasons. Firstly, guns coupled with the party culture Madison is known for is a recipe for disaster. A drunken fist fight outside of a frat party or Badger tailgate that should end with bruises and nothing more could end with people, including innocent bystanders, being shot and killed.
Even though people must be determined to be of sound mind, drinking strips people of their inhibitions, and best intentions may turn into someone’s untimely end.
Although concealed carry, and campus carry for that matter, are intended to keep campus safe, the effects elsewhere have been opposite. People mean to shoot the “bad guys,” but the deaths resulting from concealed carry, like that of Trayvon Martin, have done little to get rid of threats of violence.
In fact, concealed carry has had the exact opposite effect, being responsible for 494 U.S. civilian deaths, 23 mass shootings and the death of 14 law enforcement officers, according to the Violence Policy Institute. We have been lucky that this year’s instances have left most people relatively unscathed, but combine statistics like these with our campus’ already increasing occurrences of violent threats, and watch student casualties increase.
While concealed and campus carry are protected by the second amendment, there is legal precedence to deny these rights. The Constitution is a living document, and just as the 21st amendment nullified the 18th amendment, laws can be made to prohibit concealed carry on campus despite the second amendment. The second amendment should be taken with a grain of salt anyways, as it has become mostly obsolete.
The right to bear arms was more important when America was a budding nation without a trained and organized army. Similarly, it did not have the consequences that it does now thanks to technological advancement. Freedom to brandish a musket that takes several minutes to clean and load had much less dire consequences than carrying a semi-automatic handgun.
Perhaps the greatest reason to ban campus carry is an individual’s responsibility for upholding the social contract. Despite the second amendment protecting these rights, individual rights must be sacrificed in order to preserve our university’s greater safety. The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few, and banning campus carry is the first step to ensuring campus safety.
Because as much as we wish, texts making sure you got home safe, and even law enforcement may never be enough to keep us safe. Only the lack of weapons will.
Abby Steinberg ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in political science and intending to major in journalism.