Keep firearms decisions local
Before the mourning period for the 32 students and faculty members gunned down on April 16 at Virginia Tech by fellow student Seung-Hui Cho had ended, questions began to be asked about how another such murderous rampage could be headed off. The suggestions have ranged from the simple — installing interior door locks — to the expensive: installing more cameras on campus and hiring more security personnel. Inevitably, there has been discussion about the advisability of allowing students to carry concealed weapons with the inevitable argument in favor of that solution: had one student inside any of the classrooms Cho turned into a killing zone been armed, Cho's rampage would have been cut short quickly and dramatically.
The truth of the matter is that every suggestion that has been made about increasing security at campuses in Virginia and elsewhere remains in the realm of the theoretical and subject to a myriad of random factors. Under some circumstances, one of these suggestions might provide positive outcomes; in others, they may actually make things worse. Such is the case where allowing firearms on college campuses is concerned.
Proliferating the presence of firearms carried by students on campus may make concealed-carry and other gun advocates happy, but it is unlikely to have the deterrent effect that those advocates advertise.
The peculiarities of college life — the general lack of a home base where firearms might be securely stored, ready availability and use of alcohol and large numbers of young and often immature people — suggests that more bad outcomes may occur than good if large numbers of firearms are present.
We object to any attempt by lobbying groups to overturn universities or colleges rights to decide to ban firearms. We feel that the current policy used in Virginia, which allows institutions of higher learning to allow or forbid students to carry concealed weapons is adequate.
Blue Ridge Community College is not VCU and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville is not the same as its branch college located in Wise. A blanket decision about allowing firearms across the entire state is not the answer to making college students in Virginia safer. Keep it local.
Opinions expressed in this feature represent the majority opinion of the newspaper's editorial board, consisting of: Roger Watson, president and publisher; David Fritz, executive editor; Cindy Corell, local editor; Jim McCloskey, editorial cartoonist; and Dennis Neal, opinions editor.