Take a stand. Students must recognize and combat legislation allowing guns at schools.

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Take a stand. Students must recognize and combat legislation allowing guns at schools.

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w.kylewalkercolumnphoto2On April 15, 2013, this school’s administration enacted a security system in which students must press a button and provide visual and verbal identification before they can be admitted into the school building. This is one of many new measures taken by schools across the nation to ensure student safety, especially in light of the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

It is therefore perplexing that Governor Mike Pence recently signed into law a bill that allows legal gun-permit holders to keep guns in locked vehicles on school property, effectively setting back an effort to ensure student safety at Indiana schools. The bill, proponents explain, is designed to protect “law-abiding citizens” who could face felony charges as a result of having guns in their cars on school property—even those who may inadvertently be carrying guns while dropping off or picking up children at school.

Gun-rights advocates often discuss and bring up the impacts of more restrictive legislation on law-abiding citizens. The problem with this argument is that it cleanly categorizes all people as either “good guys” who would never think to break the law or “bad guys” who are determined to perpetrate evil no matter what laws stand in the way. This is the most convenient stance here; it divides Americans along a neat line in order to solve what is often a complex and complicated issue.

However, most of the time, dealing in absolutes unfortunately fails to solve problems, most of which are not simply matters of black and white. The law-abiding citizen, the champion of pro-gun rhetoric, is only law-abiding until he is not. This is the case for Adam Lanza, who murdered 27 people and committed suicide in the deadliest shooting at a grade school or high school in American history; for Seung-Hui Cho, who murdered 32 people and committed suicide in the deadliest mass shooting in American history; for many, if not most, perpetrators of school gun violence in the United States. Even barring shooters in high-profile cases, people who may truly have been hell-bent on acts of death and destruction, a 2014 report by Mayors Against Illegal Guns states that in 16 of 44 cases, at least one person was shot after a confrontation escalated and a gun was available. School shootings are sometimes the work of madmen, but they are also sometimes the result of a harmless argument that went horribly wrong due to the presence of a gun.

What ardent gun-rights supporters often fail to realize is that it is impossible to distinguish between who should be allowed to have a gun on school property and who should not. In arming today’s law-abiding citizens, we could very well be arming tomorrow’s school shooters.

Students come to this school to learn in a healthy and safe environment, not to worry more about becoming unfortunate victims in a society where random acts of gun violence are no longer shocking or necessarily newsworthy. It is time to take a stand against the transformation of schools in Indiana into battlegrounds of both the literal and political variety and to send a message to legislators that guns are not at all conducive to education.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Kyle Walker at kwalker2@hilite.org.

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