On the night of April 21, 2015, our Valparaiso University community was shocked by reports of an armed hostage situation in the Christopher Center library. Police from the university, the city, the county, and from the state quickly arrived on campus, secured the area outside the library, and established shelter for students.

A SWAT team proceeded to clear the library, canine units scoured the area for hazardous materials, and an aerial search was conducted on campus. Within hours the potential threat was determined to be a false alarm called in by a student and an arrest was swiftly performed.

Our campus is extremely fortunate and thankful for the hard work of local law enforcement for keeping us safe, grateful to the professionalism and leadership shown by the administration during the emergency, and blessed for the love and support issued through countless phone calls, texts, and online messages from friends and family in the community and beyond.

As this week marks the 16th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings, now more than ever we are reminded of just how important it is for campuses like ours to be able to prevent armed violence. In order to maximize the safety of our schools and colleges around the United States, utilizing common-sense gun control measures is a must.

Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of December 2012, President Obama introduced a series of measures into Congress to curb gun violence in the United States; all of these measures were blocked. However, with the number of guns entering the public sphere increasing into the millions, and with new 3D-printed guns presenting a possible blind spot in current gun accountability laws, revisiting these fair gun control measures is essential to public safety.

Passing these smart measures such as closing background check loopholes, banning assault weapons, and prohibiting large-capacity magazines both preserve the Second Amendment yet also protect the safety of our loved ones.

Most important of the President’s measures to curb gun violence, however, is the advancement of mental health care availability. With almost every major shooting in recent decades involving mental health difficulties faced by the shooter, increasing mental health services and creating a safer environment for individuals to seek help is essential.

With students both in schools and colleges facing stressors in matters academically, in the family, and in relationships, averting shootings in the future is dependent not just on common-sense gun measures but also on reducing the factors that lead to violent behavior in the first place.

It is imperative that we as Americans pass fair gun control measures and work to finally make the United States a place where seeking mental health care is nothing to be ashamed of but is in fact an act of bravery on the part of the individual. Keeping our students, staff, and faculty safe on our college campus and elsewhere is non-negotiable.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Michael Peterson at torchnews@valpo.edu.

“Gun free zones” on college campuses does not prevent unlawful actors from committing acts of gun violence.  If someone is willing to be violent, they are going to ignore all rules. The only thing these gun free zones do is prevent lawful gun owners from protecting themselves and others. It would only be fair to give students and faculty the opportunity to protect themselves. And even in allowing students to carry handguns on campus, they should still be required to have the proper licenses and training.

To look at what could happen on a campus that allowed concealed carry, let’s examine Colorado. Colorado has allowed licensed guns on campus for over a decade. At Colorado State University, in the 12 years that concealed carry has been allowed, there has not been a single problem caused by licensed carriers.

Another important aspect of concealed carry that people need to understand is that in most states, the person who applies for a carry license has to be at least 21 years of age, pass a background check, and go through some type of training. Having responsible, trained individuals on campus that carry weapons on campus, could potentially protect their fellow students from the non-law abiding attackers.

The police can’t be everywhere at once and they don’t always have the response time needed. Wouldn’t you feel safer knowing that there are other individuals around you that are trained in handling a weapon and would be able to protect you much faster than the police?

I’m not saying the police don’t protect us. They do, but VUPD only has nine officers to protect our entire campus, and not all of those officers are working at the same time. Even though they can receive assistance from the local police as well, but that is one police officer for every 362 students.

A phone call to the police may take a few seconds, but their response could take minutes. In those minutes, how could you stop acts of violence or more acts of violence from taking place? Someone with the ability to carry a concealed gun could use their gun to slow down or limit the perpetrator, giving the police more time to get there without further damage.

There are countless stories about people using their guns to protect themselves and those around them. In Salt Lake City, a man with a knife walked into a grocery store and stabbed two individuals. A third individual pulled his gun on the armed man and told him to drop his knife. They were able to subdue the attacker and turned the man over to the police once they arrived. Had the man with the gun not been there, many others could have been stabbed as well. I hope people can begin to understand the benefits of allowing concealed carry on campus.

The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch. Contact Alexandrea Griffin at torchnews@valpo.edu.

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