by Katelyn Sirp
The guy next to you isn’t even paying attention; his thumbs are quickly texting his friends about some awesome frat event. The girl in front of you is a little too into the discussion – if you could call this a discussion.
Your mind starts to drift and you wonder why the school would choose to paint the walls such a dull shade of beige. Were they purposefully trying to make these classrooms resemble prisons? Was this the psychology department’s idea? Didn’t anyone think a brighter color might help students stay awake?
Then you hear: POP! POP! POP!
The class is silent. You feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up as your heart beats faster and your stomach sinks. The noise not only has gotten your attention, but it grabs every one of your classmates. Something feels so wrong, and even though your brain tries to make sense of the situation, your heart knows what is really happening. In a matter of seconds, the door to the auditorium, where you are sitting, swings open. You can only hope for a miracle as you stare straight into the barrel of a gun.
How would this situation be different if you, a classmate, or your professor were armed? If someone could pull out a gun from their backpack and confront an assailant, would you feel safer? Would you feel less like a victim?
These are questions we need to consider as the debate of being able to carry a gun on campus continues. Naturally, people come into the conversation with their own feelings and views about the subject of gun control. But how do those views factor into the debate of guns on campus?
If you’re not familiar with what I’m referring to, Florida is a non-open carry state, which means you can’t carry a gun out in the open. But Florida does allow those with permits the ability to carry concealed weapons. Along with 19 other states, Florida does not allow concealed weapons on college campuses. The bill that is currently being proposed (HB 4001, SB 68) if passed would allow for concealed weapons permit holders to carry weapons out in the open on campus.
This causes concern for many people, especially parents of students attending a public college or university in the state. Many claim it’s a breeding group for danger with so much alcohol and drugs in the university life.
Another argument I hear thrown around is how unqualified and unregulated these permit holders are. Many say you can’t trust that the people who have these permits also have the proper training to use said weapons. Have they had a psychological exam? When was the last time they discharged a weapon? Could they handle themselves in the case that a shooter did enter the campus? It begs the question of whether or not these permit holders know how to handle their weapon and if they have had enough experience in high stress situations, where you would need to think and react almost on instinct.
Yet, with the increase of shootings on college campuses, many students report they are more comfortable having a gun on their person. Recently, in a class discussion about this topic, a student commented that, “If a shooter came in here right now, I’m going to take my chances with having a gun, because at least I have a fighting chance.”
There are no easy answers with this debate. We already know there was a planned campus shooting here at UCF just a few years ago. Either way this decision goes, it is unfortunate that students and faculty have to think about the possibility of another shooting and how they will react.