With the April 16 Virginia Tech shootings, the June stabbing of a campus police dispatcher, and the Pasadena City College Police Departments recent call for the Board to give PCCPD the “equipment and tools we need to perform our duties to the highest level possible,” the issue of arming campus police is one of the hottest on campus.However, arming the police will not ensure safety on our campus. According to the Virginia Tech Police Department, their officers have full authority to make arrests and carry firearms. That didn’t stop student Seung-Hui Cho from killing 32 of his classmates.
Littleton police and SWAT team members arrived shortly after the shooting began at Columbine High School in April 20, 1999. They were not able to prevent Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from killing 12 and wounding 24.
According to Bonnie Erb in the Seattle Post-Intellegencer, “The only fact separating the Virginia Tech massacre from the other countless workplace, college, school and public area shootings is its scale. As long as weapons are widely available, particularly automatic weapons, massacres will continue unabated.”
But the pro gun lobby looks at the issue from a different perspective. This is a huge nail in the coffin of gun control,” said Philip van Cleave, president of the gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League. “They had gun control on campus and it got all those people killed, because nobody could defend themselves,” Agence France-Presse reported him saying.
In typical American fashion, we focus on the surface of the issue. Instead of focusing the debate on whether or not gun control is the answer, or if an armed citizenry would stop campus violence, we should focus on why campus violence happens.
On the issue of campus violence, PCCPD Detective Alan Chan was correct in saying, “It could be the secretary who’s at her desk late at night, an instructor grading papers, a student in the library or the custodian attending to the restroom.
The list of potential victims is endless.” Violence on campus is a reality.
But as history has taught us, an officer with a gun can’t prevent someone from carrying out an attack. Unless it can see into the future.