The Presence of Guns on Campus Won’t Kill Free Speech

Gabriella Hoffman
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Posted: Mar 09, 2016 12:01 AM
The Presence of Guns on Campus Won’t Kill Free Speech

In a recent column in the Atlantic titled “How Guns Could Censor College Classrooms,” Firmin DeBrabander argues the mere presence of firearms on campus will hurt intellectual discourse in the classroom.

DeBrabander, who teaches philosophy at Maryland Institute College of Art, writes, “Campus carry will make students and faculty less inclined to engage in the critical intellectual work that must take place in the classroom.”

He adds, “I fear that campus carry will make students and faculty less inclined to engage in the critical intellectual work that must take place in the classroom, the courageous inquiry and experimentation American democracy requires.”

Since when does the presence of guns on campus pose a threat to free speech? Why should this professor fear the elimination of intellectual discourse in the classroom if students choose to responsibly exercise their Second Amendment rights? American universities are supposed to be marketplaces of ideas, not backdrops of zealous anti-gun, anti-freedom bigotry.

The misconceptions about gun owners purported by this individual are as delusional as they are unfounded.

Shayna Lopez-Rivas, a Florida State University student and rape survivor, says the professor’s comments on firearms threatening free speech will stifle meaningful, open-minded discourse on campus.

 “As an on campus rape survivor, I always find the arguments that campus carry will limit free speech intriguing,” Lopez-Rivas said. “Having experienced an actual threat towards my life on campus, I understand that someone disagreeing with me on topics like abortion or even gun rights is not a threat to my life.”

“I respect everyone’s right to free speech. I only wish others would respect my right to choose the way in which I defend myself,” she added.

Antonia Okafor, a graduate student in Texas and the Southwest Regional Director of Students for Concealed Carry (SCC), echoed Lopez-Rivas’ fears about the professor’s dangerous view on campus carry.

 “License-to-carry (LTC) holders are model citizens capable of and most likely to engage in heated debate without resorting to violence,” said Okafor. “I can think of one SCC member- a female U.S. Navy veteran at the University of Texas at Austin- who has fought for our very right to free speech. You are saying that because she is an LTC holder and wants to carry on campus that she is part of the problem?”

She added, “Please tell that to the many men and women bravely fighting for our country about what it means to restrict the First Amendment. And then tell them you plan to restrict their fundamental right to self-defense as well. Let's see what they say.”

Let’s set the record straight: free speech on campus is under assault by one-sided, leftist views—not firearms.Although DeBrabander talks a good talk about opening up his classroom for discussion, discourse in his classroom and thousands of other classrooms across the country is limited to so-called progressive viewpoints. So much for tolerance!

Contrary to popular belief, law-abiding campus carry advocates respect different views. While they may be frustrated and disturbed by obvious liberal bias in the classroom, they aren’t likely to act out on their frustrations. Students who choose to conceal carry on campus are smart and capable of listening to differing viewpoints without resorting to violence. This professor shouldn’t fear for his life as gun owners are disciplined, well-read, and well-trained. Why would they be triggered to fire at leftist professors over mere disagreement in opinion? This fearmongering has to be countered and stopped once and for all.

Much to the chagrin of Professor DeBrabander, law-abiding gun owners who attend college aren’t stupid or any more dangerous than the average college student. Those who responsibly carry firearms on campus undergo strenuous training and education in preparation to carry. Learning how to handle firearms is an art—one that requires constant learning and practice throughout life. To insinuate the claim that gun owners are undisciplined or unhinged demonstrates this professor’s obvious hatred of individuals who hold differing worldviews.

Free speech is under attack from authoritarian professors and administrators eager to stifle speech they despise. Permitting firearms on campus will spark conversations and challenge collegiate cupcakes to open their hearts and minds to differing viewpoints—particularly to views in favor of the Second Amendment.

Here’s to more speech, not less speech, on campus!