By Lexie Owen
Recent events such as the Connecticut Sandy Hook elementary school and Colorado movie theater massacres, have sparked nationwide debate regarding stronger gun control policies. Schools have been provoked to discuss the protection of their students, schools such as Taylor.
For the past six years, Taylor University has strictly banned all firearms and projectiles on campus. "I think the general attitude from a university standpoint is that we don't want guns on the campus," said Chief of Campus Police Jeff Wallace. "There is some legislation that's being kicked around in Indiana that would allow for lawful legal citizens to carry firearms on campuses, but that legislation is only for state institutions. As a private university we are still allowed to set our own policies regarding that, so I don't see that changing." As a gun owner himself, he understands the frustrations some students may have about the firearm restriction on campus. Wallace and other members of the police force do not think the rights of citizens to have firearms should be restricted, but that "from a university perspective . . . not having guns on campus is a wise thing." Senior Political Science major Christine Orr holds no objections to Taylor's gun control policy. "Considering the environment of this community, I think the prohibition of firearms and weapons are appropriate." The recent shootings have sparked discussion among faculty members and campus security members. Many law enforcers are of the opinion that the presence of armed teachers or officers would prevent such shootings, according to Wallace.
Taylor alumnus Craig Hider ('97) is a resident of Newtown, Conn. He witnessed the effect of the kindergarten massacre on the community. Prior to the shooting, Hider had few strong views on gun control. "My personal stance was that I didn't really have one. I grew up with them," Hider said. "My dad owned them. I thought as long as you had a permit there was no problem with it." But on Dec. 16 he and the rest of Newtown were forced to pay attention to the issue. "We were devastated . . . Our town has definitely changed and we definitely want something done about better gun control policies." This desire was made evident at a recent meeting held in Hartford, Conn. by Governor Dannel P. Malloy. Attendants of the meeting included parents of the murdered children, members of the National Rifle Association, and other concerned citizens. Newtown has seen a drastic change in school security already. "All the surrounding schools have changed up some policies on how to get into the school, even how to get your own child out for early pick up or something. There are armed local police officers at every school. That's on a local level. As far as a national level, we're still waiting," said Hider. President Obama continues to call for a ban on some weapons as well as background checks, magazine limitations and a cap on the amount of ammo bought, what he calls "basic, commonsense steps to reduce gun violence. The President faces strong opposition in Washington from the National Rifle Association and many others who feel that such restrictions would infringe upon the rights granted to them by the second constitutional amendment. According to CNN, though Obama insists that nothing is being proposed to eliminate all firearms, the NRA and their supporters argue that his plans would do very little to solve the issue of gun violence. "Lawmakers and politicians are doing what they do, talking without really listening to us." Hider said. Orr believes that public pressure often causes politicians to get caught up in irrelevant factors instead of determining what will actually result in fewer gun-related killings. Orr thinks proper gun control policies are only a small part of the issue, and that the brunt of change needs to be taken on by communities. She cites the already thorough Connecticut gun law as evidence that further laws would accomplish little. Jeff Wallace would agree. To him, campus safety is the responsibility of all members of the Taylor community. He encourages students to do their part in reporting suspicious behavior and persons on campus.