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The new argumentative article outlines the claims advanced by supporters and critics of gun possession by college students. The key point of the current argumentative article was that encouraging students to carry weapons on college campuses does not reduce active shooting accidents. Various factors affected the opinion, including recent school shooting events in the United States, where mass shooting incidents were frequent amid high rates of gun ownership (Fox and Savage 1465).
It is worth noting that college shootings are not limited to the United States; such cases have occurred in Europe, North America, and the Middle East (Pickett et al. 855). Other common forms of violence perpetrated by college students included physical fighting and bullying. Nonetheless, manifestations of violence among college students were an indicator of a broader problem that transcended availability and possession of firearms. Active shootings in colleges and other public places were often perpetuated by persons with psychosocial health problems (Wike and Fraser 164).
The trends in college shootings in the US were unpredictable based on the scope and nature of the active shooting incidents. It was noted that the cases had evolved starting from the 20th century when the first school-based shooting incidents were reported in the US (Rocque 305). In particular, 60 active shootings were reported in US colleges and schools between 1996 and 2012 (Rocque 305). However, in the 21st century, active shootings incidences had morphed into numerous rampage shootings. Scholars and other stakeholders had different opinions regarding the threat to life and safety posed by active shooting incidents by students in possession of firearms. Goode and Ben-Yehuda argued that school shootings did not pose a significant safety risk to students compared to what was projected by the media (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 105). Other researchers postulated that modern schools were safer today compared to the 20th century when corporal punishment was allowed. However, such arguments were flawed given the fact that corporal punishment did not result in mass deaths of students compared to the current active shooting incidences.
Case against Gun Ownership by College Students
Ten years have passed since the Virginia Tech mass shooting incident carried out by Seung Hui Cho. The shooting at Virginia Tech was regarded as the leading fatal mass shooting incident in the modern history of the US (Kaminski et al. 88) because over 32 faculty and students lost their lives and 17 others were critically wounded. In less than a year after the Virginia Tech incident, another active shooting incident was reported at Northern Illinois University. The attack was carried out by Steven Kazmierczak who killed 18 students (Kaminski et al. 88). The active shooting incidents were not a preserve of male students. The first college shooting perpetrated by a female student was witnessed in 2008 at Louisiana Technical College when Latina Williams – a nursing student at the college killed two students before committing suicide (Newman and Fox 1302). The three shooting incidents in US colleges, though executed by different persons had striking similarities. A case in point, all were carried out by lone rangers, who happened to be students at the respective colleges where the shooting incidences took place. The shooters had the intent to shoot as many people as possible; the students had access to guns, and they committed suicide after killing other persons (Heilbrun, Dvoskin, and Heilbrun 94). Additionally, both Seung and Steven had a prior history of mental illnesses (Newman and Fox 1301). Besides, evidence collected after the Louisiana incident indicated that Latina Williams could have been suffering from psychiatric diseases albeit passively, given the fact that she had not sought medical treatment.
The shooting incidents pointed to an apparent lapse in security protocols in the universities. Besides, given that most students in US colleges had access to guns, gun ownership or lack of ownership could not be regarded as the principal risk factor in the mass shooting incidents. Apart from gun ownership, psychosocial health problems were the leading risk factors for mass shootings. Therefore, instead of increasing the student-gun ratio in colleges, colleges should address psychiatric health problems affecting students. The above argument was informed by the fact that increasing the number of guns in the campus would not address the root cause of mass shootings. In fact, higher levels of gun ownership would increase the chances of mentally unstable students executing mass shooting; thus instilling more fear among students (Kaminski et al. 90). It is worthy to note that fear was one of the factors that motivated students to carry guns in school as a means for self-defense.
Given the randomness of the attack and lack of correlation between the various incidences, carrying guns in school would not diminish the risk posed by a lone gunman on a college campus with an intent of killing. For instance, (Fox and Savage 1466) noted that depressed and overworked students had perpetuated most of the college shooting incidents in the US on the verge of academic failure. Besides, Fox and Savage pointed out that heightened focus on the Virginia Tech incident would be missing the broader picture of what contributed to the shootings in the US and what could be done about it. Give that both Seung and Steven had a history of psychiatric conditions, it would be imprudent to presume that more guns in the hands of the students would help to curb mass shootings. Fox and Savage (1466) posit that new security measures instituted in colleges had enhanced the atmosphere of fear among college students. Therefore, the new rules were retrogressive, given the fact that they had not helped to curb active shooting incidents in the US. Besides, the measures had also impeded the carefree environment that was the hallmark of campus life (Fox and Savage 1466).
The position adopted in the current essay was further augmented by recent study findings by Kleck et al. who noted that gun controls were positively correlated with lower incidences of crime (Kleck, Kovandzic, and Bellows 488). The researchers investigated the effect of gun control laws on crime rates, and it was noted that restricting ownership among persons with socially irresponsible behavior reduced incidences of robberies and homicides. Besides, the researchers argued that laws that made it impossible for persons with mental illnesses or criminal records to own guns would reduce the occurrence of criminal acts committed by persons in possession of firearms (Kleck, Kovandzic, and Bellows 488).
In Defense of Gun Ownership by Students
Following the Virginia Tech shooting incident, various security protocols were instituted in state and private colleges. A case in point, most colleges overhauled their emergency communication system and adopted new policies with multiple forms of information dissemination such as SMS, e-mails, and alerts. However, recent studies indicated that only a small proportion of the student fraternity had adopted the new security measures. In addition to the new systems of information sharing and campus lockdowns, colleges adopted new policies that allowed more faculty and students to carry firearms (Fox). States such as Georgia and Arkansas recently passed legislation that permitted students to carry firearms on campus (Weeden). The argument advanced in defense of the policy changes that allowed students to carry guns on campus was that students would be in a better position to defend themselves in the event of an attack.
Besides, proponents of gun ownership and bearing of firearms such as the National Rifle Association often cite the second amendment that allowed US citizens to own firearms. The basis of the Second Amendment was to safeguard American's right to self-defense. However, recent legal interpretations indicate that the right to self-defense, "keep and bear arms" was a right to be enjoyed by law-abiding citizens only (Gulasekaram 1521). Given that perpetrators of the three shooting incidents did not have any criminal records, their right to bear arms was protected by the constitution. Therefore, the proposition that students should carry more firearms in colleges was informed by legal considerations and the need to maintain the status quo.
Some feasible solutions were proposed to curb the frequent incidences of mass shootings in the US. One of the proposed solutions was the adoption of a university policy that fostered commonality and collective responsibility (Heilbrun, Dvoskin, and Heilbrun 97). The policy should also advocate for the suspension or expulsion of all students who were perceived to be a threat to the security of the college because campus safety supersedes the privacy and rights of individual students. Besides, the university should encourage the faculty and students to act impartially and show respect to all because acts of mistreatment could potentially lead to violent acts (Heilbrun, Dvoskin, and Heilbrun 97). Fairness in the university could be enhanced by policies that foster inclusivity of all students. Besides, the establishment of channels for dispute resolution would also help in addressing issues that would otherwise motivate students to contemplate participating in active shootings. Additionally, colleges should consider restricting ownership of firearms among student. The need to limit gun ownership among students was informed by empirical findings which proved that high rates of gun ownership were correlated with higher incidences of homicides and gun-related crime (Siegel, Ross, and King 2098).
Considering that persons with psychiatric conditions perpetrated fatal mass shootings in US colleges, it was postulated that the carrying guns in schools would not reduce the prevalence of mass shootings. In fact, it would increase the chances of mass shootings perpetrated by mentally unstable students. Empirical evidence derived from various studies was used to reinforce the case against the bearing of guns by students. Therefore, in place of more arms, measures should be instituted to address the psychosocial health problems. The argument advanced in defense of gun ownership based on the Second Amendment was considered faulty given that such freedoms were bestowed on persons who could act responsibly. Therefore, persons who were unwilling to exercise their rights responsibly were deemed unqualified to enjoy such rights.
Fox, J, and J. Savage. “Mass Murder Goes to College: An Examination of Changes on College Campuses Following Virginia Tech.” American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 52, no. 10, 2009, pp. 1465–1485.
Fox, James. “Fueling a Contagion of Campus Bloodshed.” The Chronicle, 2008, http://www.chronicle.com/article/Fueling-a-Contagion-of-Campus/23636. Accesssed 12 Oct. 2017.
Goode, Erich, and Nachman Ben-Yehuda. Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance: Second Edition, 2009, pp. 1-223.
Gulasekaram, Pratheepan. “‘ The People ’ of the Second Amendment: Citizenship and the Right To Bear Arms.” 2011, pp. 1521–1580.
Heilbrun, Kirk, Joel Dvoskin, and Anna Heilbrun. “Toward Preventing Future Tragedies: Mass Millings on College Campuses, Public Health, and Threat/risk Assessment.” Psychological Injury and Law, vol. 2, no. 2, 2009, pp. 93–99.
Kaminski, Robert J. et al. “The Impacts of the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University Shootings on Fear of Crime on Campus.” Journal of Criminal Justice, vol. 38, no. 1, 2010, pp. 88–98.
Kleck, Gary, Tomislav Kovandzic, and Jon Bellows. “Does Gun Control Reduce Violent Crime?” Criminal Justice Review, vol. 41, no. 4, 2016, pp. 488–513.
Newman, Katherine, and Cybelle Fox. “Rampage Shootings in American High School and College Settings, 2002-2008.” American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 52, no. 9, 2009, pp. 1286–1308.
Pickett, W. et al. “Cross-National Study of Fighting and Weapon Carrying as Determinants of Adolescent Injury.” Pediatrics, vol. 116, no. 6, 2005, pp. e855–e863.
Rocque, Michael. “Exploring School Rampage Shootings: Research, Theory, and Policy.” Social Science Journal, vol. 49, no. 3, 2012, pp. 304–313.
Siegel, Michael, Craig S Ross, and Charles King. “The Relationship Between Gun Ownership and Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States , 1981 – 2010.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 103, no. 11, 2013, pp. 2098–2105.
Weeden, Dustin. “Guns on Campus: Overview.” National Conference of State Legislatures, 2017. http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/guns-on-campus-overview.aspx. Accessed 12 Oct. 2017.
Wike, Traci L., and Mark W. Fraser. “School Shootings: Making Sense of the Senseless.” Aggression and Violent Behavior, vol. 14, no. 3, 2009, pp. 162–169.
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