Guns and Health

The Arizona legislature is considering a bill that would allow guns to be carried by students on college campuses.  It is a contentious issue between students and administration, who generally do not want such a law, and the gun lobbyists who do.  While economics and the Second Amendment rhetoric get tossed around, there is a deeper question of health.

Yes, of course, there is the obvious health question as to whether the passage of such a law would help reduce physical trauma from gun wounds or create the potential for many more.  But the deeper concern might be whether or not the passage of the law increases or lessens the fear of students and administrators, who actually must use the campuses.  Surely the legislators and the gun lobbyists have no requirement to be on campus.

There may be a few campus-dwellers who will find carrying a weapon reduces their level of fear of unwanted acts of violence, because they are already living on a current of fear.  But from the response of the majority of students and administrators, there would be a heightened level of fear generally, because the opportunity (an infinite increase in gun carrying) for acting harmfully on wrong impulses would be so prevalent.   The presence of thousands of firearms on a college campus is not healthy, in fact, it may be an assault in and of itself.

If an assault can be defined as putting another in great fear of bodily harm, then it sounds like there may be a lot of students and administrators who are being placed in exactly that position, should this bill become law.  Those who would carry such weapons would be doing so with the general and specific intent to put others in fear of such harm in hopes of deterring the rare situation where a random violent act might occur.

The most important asset of any student or faculty member is his or her thinking.  There is little doubt that one’s thinking affects their physical health.  If students become constantly apprehensive because of the ever presence of guns, then their mental focus will be on settling fear rather than learning their subjects.  That kind of tension is not health generating.

Arizona is the Golden Rule State.  Where is the Golden Rule in carrying a gun to school?  For some, the example of the master Christian provides the practical application of the Golden Rule, though all faith and humanistic traditions have some form of Golden Rule.  In the Christian example, we have the case where Peter cut off the high priest’s ear in defense of Jesus during his arrest.  But Jesus quickly restored the ear of the wounded man and told Peter to put up his sword.  What was he teaching us?  To carry more weapons, or to stop using the one’s we have?  Loving your neighbor is not preparing to shoot them.

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