Wisconsin Act 35 states that residents may carry concealed weapons as long as they have a permit and four hours of training. However, this law doesn’t allow guns to be carried in school zones or certain public locations such as correctional facilities, federal courthouses, mental institutions and prisons. Mount Mary College isn’t considered a school zone and has the option to allow concealed weapons on its premises.
Mount Mary is choosing not to allow guns on campus and Arches’ staff agrees. Yes, we should all be physically prepared for dangerous situations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that carrying a gun or weapon can protect someone. Utah is the only state that hasn’t censored the law which allows concealed weapons in college buildings. Not everyone thinks that is a good idea, but many students in Utah wanted this law after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. It is debatable whether the shooter could have been stopped if students or faculty had been armed. Some students say no, while others believe that the casualties wouldn’t have reached, 32 dead and 25 wounded.
But can a person with only four hours of training be able to make a snap judgment call in a situation when he or she is provoked by fear?
In 1999, Amadou Diallo, a street peddler in Manhattan, was brutally shot 41 times by four New York police officers for no legitimate reason. The 22-year-old unarmed West African immigrant was said to have been loitering in the vestibule of his building prior to the shooting. Diallo was mistaken for a serial rapist, and when he reached in his pocket to pull out his wallet, police fired on him. If highly trained professionals like police officers can mistakenly shoot someone, how can someone with only four hours of training be able to properly assess the situation?
Last year at Mount Mary, visitors at the Bloechl Center were faced with an attempted armed robbery during the “Over-the-Gap Basketball Game,” a benefit for the Summit Educational Association, Inc. No guns, other than the one in the criminal’s possession, were involved. In fact, the person guarding the money used his bare hands to pull the money away, ignoring the weapon’s presence altogether. If the man had pulled out a gun in response to the criminal’s, the ordeal may have escalated.
So, should we feel safer now knowing that a gun could be easily accessible in someone’s car, on school property or perhaps on a person walking by campus? According to a U.S. Department of Justice report, violent and seriously violent victimization declined during 2000-2010, while the nature and severity of violence changed. In savage crimes committed by strangers, violent injuries have increased while weapon use has decreased. This data reveals that guns don’t need to be present for someone to get hurt. If a brutal attacks occurs, there is no guarantee that a victim, armed or not, will walk out of it unharmed.
We don’t have a perfect solution to the problem of violence, not unless individuals are willing to give up their weapons of hatred (both mentally and physically). A feasible solution to protecting one’s person under this new law would be to require more training for those carrying weapons and increase awareness of how to respond physically and psychologically to a violent situation. This is a responsibility we each bear to make our society safer and more civil. People who arm themselves should receive more than four hours of training in gun safety, including professional advice for dealing with possible psychological trauma associated with shooting another human being.
However, none of these ideas solve the true problem, which is violence itself. Could you see yourself shooting another human being if it came down to it? If not, why carry? It’s entirely up to you to choose the route that best fits your situation. But if you’re a true believer that “things must get worse before they can get better,” then perhaps Wisconsin is on the right track after all.