No Guns for Campus Security. Not Now. Not Ever. OPINION
No Guns for Campus Security. Not Now. Not Ever.
OPINION – Jake Edgar
The crucial message that we must take from the brave and unendingly inspiring students of Parkland, Florida is this: We can never stop fighting. That being said, there is rumor and ignorance flooding the comments section of twitter, and PCC is about to find themselves in a precarious place.
There are conservatives among us. We need to understand that as a community. That, for obvious reasons, isn’t inherently negative. However, the ideology that is transcending the conservative right at this point in the US is dangerous, cruel, and ultimately fear mongering. After a recent story I wrote for this newspaper, regarding the BVWU, there was twitter fire which led to a profoundly misguided suggestion by @WilLauver:
“So let me get this straight. @PortlandCC thinks it is perfectly fine to call for a boycott of one of my companies but it’s not ok to keep students safe by arming their cops?”
This commenter was wrong on a number of levels, but the first thing we need to address is the absurd and horrifying suggestion of arming our “cops.”
So let’s put this into perspective. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, there are 96 deaths from guns PER DAY in the US, which is 28 times the number of guns deaths per day in the U.K. The US has more guns per capita than YEMEN which is literally in the midst of a CIVIL WAR. The context of their civil war is tragically common, with the US supplying the Saudi Arabian forces that play such a key role in the terror and misery of everyday citizens in Yemen. They claim to support Saudi Arabia in its efforts to fight the Houthis forces, but the reality is that the Capitalist forces that keep the US grinding are wielding big money deals to supply weapons that ultimately lead to widespread famine and the worst cholera outbreak in decades.
With that aside, students do not feel safer with armed campus security. It only increases the amount of implied violence they must witness in a day. A gun on the hip of a security officer is unsettling, no matter the context. This is because guns are designed to kill. At a community college where diversity is supposed to be celebrated this becomes particularly problematic. According to the Washington Post People of Color in the US are 2.5 times more likely to be murdered by police, often for committing non-violent crimes, and in so many cases, despite following the instructions of the officers.
For every homicide in the US by a firearm, there are 2 more injuries. This is deeply rooted in our culture. We are the number one gun manufacturer on the planet, and the implications of that fact are not to be ignored. Since the election of 45, stocks for weapons manufacturers have skyrocketed, due in part to Republican opposition of regulation, and in part 45’s public obsession with violence. This can be seen here in Raytheon’s (a weapons manufacturer) surging stock prices, since the election.
The paradox we face in this country is that it is not possible to produce guns without celebrating them, but if we don’t take control soon then we will find ourselves clutching the constitution while our families murder each other to prove that they still have the freedom to do so.
PCC is no stranger to this suggestion. In 2015 there was a shooting at Umpqua Community College, and a number of staff members signed an email that circulated the staff making this claim:
“Given what happened at Umpqua Community College last week, we think that our campus police need to be armed. If a shooter showed up at a PCC campus, our unarmed campus police would be at a disadvantage, which makes the rest of the community more vulnerable. It is our impression from personal experience with them that the PCC campus police are very professional and able.
After all, how long would it take for armed police to show up from off-campus to take respond to the shooter? How many people would be hurt or killed during that time? Our campus police could obviously respond more quickly, but common sense would seem to suggest that they would be much more effective if they had guns.”
The reality of this claim however, is that despite 3 armed officers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, they completely failed to stop the shooter. In fact, there has never been a shooter apprehended or stopped by Campus Security forces.
PSU’s response to the Umpqua event was to arm their police, and there is a strong movement to reverse that decision.
“I don’t believe a gun deters sexual violence. A gun is not going to save me,” [Olivia] Pace [of Disarm PSU] told KATU.
Fortunately “state law does not allow the two-year colleges to form police departments staffed with armed, state-certified law enforcement officers” according to OregonLive from 2015.
Nevertheless, the argument that guns keep students safe is dismissive of the fact that guns also make students uncomfortable. PCC should be a place of learning, not an occupied institution. An increase in the number of armed security guards on campus would do nothing to protect students. The essence of the movement to change gun laws is that guns are fucking bad, and we don’t want them anymore. We want to come to school, and walk into class with a clear mind. Weapons from strangers or campus security would dilute that feeling of focus. The weapons manufacturing arm of the NRA cannot continue to profit directly from the death of children. We cannot let our student body become the victim of the their tried and true gun sales protocol. We cannot let the paranoia of the extreme right conflate safety with their own obsession with weapons. We must keep fighting.