Truth: I stole that from Tina Fey, my college classmate and friend. Further truth: I did not know her at all, which has only occasionally stopped me from telling people we were friends. She’s so funny! Can’t I wish we were friends and convince myself that it’s true? That sort of thing works at the General Assembly everyday. For instance, the House will take up a bill today that will allow people with concealed carry permits to bring their guns onto campuses across the state as long as they store the guns in their vehicles. If our reps pass it, it will be over the university system head’s objections as well as those of the heads of public safety at the state’s two largest campuses. Experts?! What do they know? Some members of the House want to do it, so it must be a good idea! I know we went over this last week, but I thought I’d offer some fun anecdotal evidence about college hijinks and our gun culture.
Living near UNC has a lot of advantages. The scenery is nice, it’s walkable and bike-friendly, there are many squirrels on campus for the dog to sniff, and there’s always something going on nearby. The students, however, can be a bit mystifying. They vomit a lot after football games. On the sidewalks. They sometimes drive onto nonexistent driveways, also known as lawns, and other times into trees. They laugh really loud at 3 a.m. and frequently have to be told to put their garbage into cans rather than on the yard. Then they have to be asked to roll their garbage cans away from the street. Things that are incomprehensible to the average adult often strike them as tres amusant. Like one morning, after a football game the home team won, I discovered that some wag had placed a condom over the street-crossing button at Cameron and Merritt Mill. Why? Who knows? It’s just the kids these days. They’re bright and shiny and full of mischief, same as they ever was. What they’re not is entirely sensible, which is age-appropriate and, again, same as it ever was. That’s why they shouldn’t come to campus armed. It isn’t safe for them or the people around them. I can only hope that the NC House listens to the experts who are telling them this is a bad idea, but much like the students I observe, many of our representatives seem immune to reason.
This makes them ideal allies for people who have no interest in preventing gun violence. Notice I don’t say gun owners, because most gun owners are in fact, interested in preventing gun violence and support common sense measures that would allow this country to do so. No, I’m talking about highly reactive, anxious people who call someone a “gun grabber” because she supports universal background checks. I’m talking about people who react to every comment on gun violence prevention with anger and alarm. Geez, if you’re the ones packing heat, why so touchy?
Allowing guns on campuses is a public safety issue. If the chief public safety officers are against it, that should matter to every parent considering a North Carolina campus for his or her child. (It should matter to every child considering those campuses, but, as I’ve pointed out, they’re not so much with the common sense all the time.) It should really matter to every member of the North Carolina House today. Guns have no place on college campuses. The point of college is to learn and a lot of learning comes from respectful disagreement. Adding guns to the mix won’t contribute to learning, it will only contribute to fear, which stifles dissent and the acquisition of knowledge. As a neighbor and, I hope, future parent of state university students, I ask the House to respect the campus officials who are charged with keeping our kids safe. I hope I’m not alone in believing that guns have no place on North Carolina’s campuses