From news networks to headlines, the words “sexual assault” and “college campus” have been plastered everywhere. As awareness of rape and attempted sexual violence spreads, the numbers are nationally increasing. More students are at risk and fear continues to spread. People are searching for answers.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women on college campuses is a victim of sexual assault. One in 16 men is also a victim. The current college pandemic is not students skipping class or getting wasted — it’s the staggeringly high rates of sexual assault. What is the solution to the sexual violence plaguing college campuses? A group of conservative lawmakers have introduced a bill that they feel solves the problem. You won’t believe it.
Their brilliant solution is to allow young women to carry guns on college campuses. While this idea is truly radical, lawmakers in 10 states think it is the answer. Their proposal is a bill that would permit the carrying of firearms on campuses. The bill has been introduced in states such as Florida, Nevada, Texas and South Carolina. According to an article in The New York Times, Nevada assemblywoman Michele Fiore stated eloquently that if the “young, hot little girls” on campuses had guns, men would think twice before attempting to rape them. She added that this new bill would deter sexual assaults if “sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”
Proponents of the bill believe their large support proves it must be a great idea. Let’s try their proposal on for size.
Advocates believe college campuses, like Rider, are the perfect places for firearms. Actually, The New York Times reports that carrying concealed guns on college campuses is illegal in 41 states, including New Jersey. By lawmakers’ logic, this can’t possibly be for the better.
According to The Source, at Rider, there is no weaponry of any kind allowed on campus, including BB guns and brass knuckles. Consequences of weapon violations can be as serious as dismissal from the university for up to a year.
According to conservative lawmakers, polices like Rider’s were crafted by the misguided. Their view is that introducing these weapons in an educational environment can only lessen crime. If schools like Rider allowed women to carry guns, we could easily put down anyone trying to sexually assault us. And by the way, we could also shoot any thieves, predators, criminals or professors who are tough graders.
Of course, defenders of this proposal will assume that college students are mentally stable enough to carry weapons. Incidents such as the Virginia Tech massacre, though they clearly depict the dangers of putting a weapon in the hands of the unstable, surely were just flukes. These people have no fear of inebriated students carrying guns, because even while drunk, they will be in the right mindset to avoid accidentally pulling the trigger. Besides, only four out of five college students drink anyway. (That’s only the majority.)
The bill proponents don’t count on misunderstandings either. What are the chances of a student shooting an innocent man or woman? These people think all of our students know exactly what a rapist looks like, as they all look the same anyway. Surely no students will use their weapons against others for reasons besides sexual assault. They believe this system is foolproof, as every student on every campus, including Rider, displays perfect judgment at all times. And hey, if a few lives are accidentally lost along the way, it’s no big deal, right?
State Representative Dennis K. Baxley of Florida said that if someone is raped because lawmakers or universities prohibit the carrying of firearms, then it is the lawmakers or school that is at fault. By his logic, rape is the responsibility of the institutions or individuals who misguidedly try to protect students by limiting weapons on campus. Who else could be at fault for rape — the rapist?
The bill’s authors raise the argument that if we don’t give guns to our students, how else can we fight the spreading epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses? They doubt universities, such as Rider, could teach their students about the risks or about safety through educational programs, such as ThinkLuv. They also ignore the possibility of providing counseling services for victims. To them, there’s no point in trying to make it easier and more supportive for victims to report sexual crimes. Any solution except guns for women is simply ridiculous to the gun lovers.
In all seriousness, sexual assault is nothing to joke about. It’s a lasting problem, and for many young women and men, it’s a real, scary memory. We have the power to make a difference. We need to be aware of rape and sexual violence, and we need to educate ourselves on safety. We need to teach students to stop assaulting, and we need to show them that the repercussions of their actions will be far more than a wagging finger. The cure for this violent pandemic doesn’t start in the barrel of a gun, but it starts in all of us.
The weekly editorial expresses the
majority opinion of The Rider News.
This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.
Printed in the 03/04/15 issue.