The following editorial is republished in its entirety with the permission of dailycampus.com. I’ve spoken with the publication’s Editor-in-Chief Christopher Duray. He says the piece is more about the style of the protest than the validity of its claims. His comments are at the end of this op-ed.
This week, the UConn Pistol and Rifle Club will be wearing empty holsters around campus to protest a ban on carrying concealed weapons at universities. It’s a sensationalistic move that will ultimately add very little to the gun control debate.
For a college student to carry a gun is so out of character that it comes across as absurd. There’s an irony in the clashing perception between the student stereotyped as either hedonistic or studious and the gun, which is dangerous.
How is anyone supposed to take a conversation with one of these protestors [sic] seriously when they’re wearing something so out of place? They may as well be in chicken costumes.
Perhaps the lack of association with guns and students is one of the problems the club has to overcome. But it’s going to be difficult to truly accept an important and reasonable point from someone dressed so awkwardly.
The only time a holster won’t be met with laughs or dismissal is if a demonstrator confronts a person who was, for whatever reason, deeply affected either emotionally or practically by a school shooting. And dealing with a person reeling from the high emotions that come from being reminded of that level of trauma isn’t the way to hold an honest debate either.
What are the protestors ultimately trying to show? Exactly how many people would be armed if state provisions were to be altered? If the demonstrators actually are able to communicate that idea effectively, the violence and aggression associated with guns might prove to be far more intimidating than reassuring. A successful protest would therefore be entirely counter-productive.
Speaking of efficacy, the provisions that keep guns off UConn’s campus are state statutes and not university policies. If the club is actually interested in making practical changes to the rules, why aren’t they protesting in Hartford where a change can actually be made?
No matter how you react to the protest, it’s a cheap stunt. In a very complex conversation with legitimate concerns on both sides, relying on drastic imagery without context is intellectually lazy – no matter what issue is being discussed.
The students of this university aren’t so far gone that they won’t respond to thoughtfulness and tact. But instead, this protest is designed only to engage a person’s emotions, and because of that, thoughtless knee-jerk emotions are the only thing they’ll receive.
When I asked Christopher Duray whether he believes students and/or teachers should be able to carry [licensed] firearms on campus, the Editor-in-Chief continued the “ill-advised” theme. “Considering the alcohol and drug use at UConn, I believe guns would cause more problems than they would solve.”
What of the contention that an armed student or teacher could have stopped spree killings at Columbine or Virgina Tech? “In general, I think you have a better chance with prevention than reaction,” Duray told TTAG. “An armed student could have caused more confusion for the police.”
Although Duray says the 2009 stabbing of football player Jasper Howrd at the UConn campus was an isolated incident, he understands the protesters’ desire to carry a gun for self-protection. “It’s a good argument,” he says. “But I don’t agree.”