Guns should not be allowed on SD campuses

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I grew up in a town that was recently named the 17th safest city in America by Neighborhood Scout. That city is just a few minutes drive from one of the most crime-heavy cities in America — Chicago. Just last year there were 407 murders within city limits.

It’s like two different worlds. I am fortunate to not have grown up in the gang-filled neighborhoods on the south and west sides of the city. My town was quiet.

Last year, Illinois became the last state in the union to allow concealed weapons. I did not grow up in a place where concealed carry is normal. The only guns I ever saw as a child were carried by the police officers at my school.

The thought of South Dakota House Bill 1206, which allows students to carry concealed pistols on the state’s university campuses under certain provisions, is very nerve-wracking to me.

Maybe it is the way I was raised, but I don’t really see the need for guns on campus.

I certainly cannot put myself in the shoes of people who live in rural areas where police response times can be dangerous. I am fortunate to not worry about the police getting to my house in time.

However, that is not a problem at the University of South Dakota or Vermillion either. We have an excellent police force. I put my full trust in Vermillion’s finest.

College campuses are supposed to be a healthy and safe learning environment. In fact, they are. A study by the U.S. Department of Education in 1999 found 0.07 per 100,000 students was the homicide rate on college campuses. In the same year the homicide rate overall in the United States was 5.7 per 100,000 people.

By allowing guns on campus, USD will not have a healthy and safe learning environment.

One of the reasons I came to USD was the university’s position on the First Amendment to the Constitution. We are a free speech school.

Could that free speech be hindered if we begin to allow guns on campus? It makes me fear for the words we sometimes print in The Volante. We aren’t here to make everyone happy. Sometimes the stories we publish can upset people.

I don’t want someone walking into our newsroom with a gun. We don’t publish things as controversial as Charlie Hebdo, but it can still happen.

Don’t get confused at what I am arguing. I am not going to argue against the Second Amendment — the right to bear arms. Guns are not for me. I have never shot one, and I don’t have any plans to in the future. But, they are for some people and I understand that.

I want to feel safe at the university I attend, and with HB1206 that feeling of safety is gone.

To the South Dakota Legislature: vote no on HB1206. Many students have expressed negative feelings on this bill, President James W. Abbott is against it, and the South Dakota Board of Regents is against it.

This is our campus, and we do not want guns on it.