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Opinion on guns on campus: We protect students in football stadiums. Why not classrooms?

Writer Rick Diguette, a frequent Get Schooled contributor, teaches at a local college. In this column today, he discusses guns on campus in the wake of the massacre at a college in Oregon.

By Rick Diguette

In the wake of the shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, I've been giving some thought to classroom safety.  Although there’s a fairly robust security presence on the metro Atlanta campus where I teach, it would be easy for anyone ― student or otherwise ― to gain access to one of my classrooms and open fire.  To make matters even worse, all of my classrooms have only one way in and the same way out.

And this, so the reasoning goes, is why guns should be allowed not only on our campuses but in our classrooms as well.

On the other side of this fault line are people like me. I don't agree more guns in more hands in more places will reduce or effectively address the problem of gun violence. Instead, I think we should do more to prevent people from having guns where they can inflict maximum damage in a minimum amount of time.

Has this ever been tried? Indeed it has. Where? Inside college football stadiums packed on Saturday afternoons with thousands of screaming fans.

Sometimes a fool goes "wild west" while tailgating outside a football stadium, but fans don't have to worry about that once they've moved inside and found their seats. What would happen though if the University of Georgia, for example, allowed fans to carry loaded weapons inside Sanford Stadium?

How long before a deranged person armed with a semi-automatic weapon decided to spray the crowd with bullets? Or how long before two armed and unruly fans decided to settle their differences and ended up shooting each other as well as innocent bystanders?

In either scenario, can you imagine the ensuing carnage when massive numbers of frightened fans made for the exits all at once?

Would attendance drop at a place like Sanford Stadium? I don’t think there’s any question it would, and that in turn would adversely affect Georgia’s football program, which now derives about $20 million each year from football ticket revenue alone.  In other words, there’s a compelling reason for keeping guns out of the stadium and screaming Georgia fans in their seats.

Lots and lots of money.

Is there an equally compelling reason for keeping guns out of our college classrooms?

I think there is, especially when you consider how much college costs these days. Ask parents paying for their children’s education at Georgia, Georgia Tech, or Georgia State. Better yet, ask students who graduate from our public colleges and universities with tens of thousands of dollars in loans they must repay.

I’ll bet they wonder why some of that money couldn’t be used to prevent a deranged gunman from entering their classroom. And why so many of Georgia’s legislators, who support concealed carry on campus laws, think students ought to bear the burden of their own defense.

Even though the NRA and the gun lobby are well heeled and always on blast, let’s hope that one day soon the only screams heard on a college campus will be fans cheering for the home team.


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.