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Keep College Campuses Safer, NO GUNS! – Guest Editorial

Guest Editorial/Op-Ed

 

Dr. Hanbury - Web size

Dr. George Hanbury, President, NSU

Fort Lauderdale/Davie, Fla. – It’s the greatest fear any educational leader has – a shooting on campus.

All too often we are witnessing weapons-related tragedies across the United States. While many people couch the debate on the merits of the Second Amendment, which does call for “a well-regulated Militia,” the piece of the puzzle that most concerns me is the argument to allow people to openly carry their firearm, including on college or university campuses.

When tragic situations occur, such as the shooting at Florida State University, or the more recent incidents at the Orlando Pulse nightclub and the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, gun proponents leverage the event to justify legislation that would allow for many more guns in public places. In fact, a recent news article outlines proposals in the Florida Legislature which, if you read them, are bone chilling. As President of Nova Southeastern University (NSU), I am ultimately responsible for the safety and well-being of more than 20,000 students, more than five thousand employees, 177,000 alumni, and hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to our campuses annually. Allowing “open carry” of guns on college campuses is short-sighted and dangerous.

When you step onto NSU’s nine campuses – or any other campus – you should experience an environment where students and faculty are free to safely exchange ideas, participate in debate, and expand their knowledge through the educational process. Having any guns, much less more guns, instantly decreases the level of safety on a campus and definitely hinders the ability to civilly exchange ideas and participate in debate without fear of intimidation from gun-carrying classmates or professors. Research shows that shootings on college campuses are not prevented where students are allowed to carry firearms. In fact, statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show that only seven percent of violence against college students took place on campus. I am a firm believer that this is the direct result of the prohibition of weapons on campus.

The recent Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport incident raised an interesting point that many in the discussion have overlooked. The argument is that having people who are carrying their firearm can help prevent the “bad guy” from doing more damage because they can, in theory, use their gun on the suspect. However, determining who the “bad guy” is will not always be easy, especially with multiple people firing their guns. Well-intentioned by-standers can become victims, and it would be impossible for law enforcement personnel to differentiate the assailant from the others with guns.

Now, imagine the above situation taking place on a college campus. That is my greatest fear. Instead of promoting more weapons, we promote education on how to act in a situation where there is an active shooter. The “Ready Houston” initiative has a great video that I recommend everyone watch to become better prepared for the unthinkable; just search on YouTube for “Run. Hide. Fight.”

I believe that allowing guns on campuses would lead to an increase in incidents, both intentional and accidental. This issue involves our faculty, staff, students, alumni and visitors from the community and around the world. While we hope adults will conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, when it comes to college students, they will act like college students. Mixing immaturity with weapons is not the most prudent course of action.

 

Dr. George L. Hanbury II is president and CEO of Nova Southeastern University, a private, not-for-profit university based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.