Keep Rhode Island campuses gun free

 

Still before the Rage released at the Board of Education meeting on May 23, 2013.

On April 4, 2013, the University of Rhode Island campus was locked down for hours after, as the Providence Journal reported, “people in a lecture hall said they heard someone say they had a gun. Police found no gun or a shooter.” In response to this event, a URI committee proposed arming the campus police.

At their May 23, 2013 meeting, the Board of Education is expected to voted to allow URI, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island, to arm their campus police. URI President, David M. Dooley, endorses the introduction of guns on campus. This and the decision to move URI commencement exercises indoors for security reasons are all symptoms of a society that has lost its way in blind fear, and appoints its university presidents to groups of no academic consequence such as the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council.[1]

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30,000 gun related deaths occur in the US each year, while approximately 100,000 Americans are physical victims of gun violence. How do we even begin to quantify the grief caused by guns in this relentless slaughter in our midst?

A decision to introduce more guns fails to acknowledge that fear on the part of armed police leads to the shooting of unarmed people, often people of color. A tragic incident at Hofstra University, just days ago, confirms this pattern.[3] The introduction of more guns ignores the fact that the UK has a mostly unarmed police force and a fire arm fatality rate that is 40 times lower per capita than in the US. A review of the shooting incidents on college campuses shows that armed police responding with weapons of deadly force failed to protect these communities. Arming campus police may, in many, create the illusion of safety but reality belies this perception. The experiment has been done globally, and the results are in: more guns spells more violence, more victims and more fatalities.

We are alarmed by the prospect of armed police on campus with yet more guns to be introduced into our hyper-violent society with the sociopaths it creates in its image. Since the mass killing in Newtown in December of 2013, there have been more than 4,000 gun fatalities in the US[2] This statistic has not penetrated our national awareness. As a society, we pay attention to spectacular events, but we fail to notice the frightening reality of the numbers of fatalities due to violence, and racial, economic and environmental injustice.

In particular against this backdrop, it is an essential function of our educational system to teach non-violent conflict resolution. Arming campus police is fundamentally inconsistent with this critical function of education.

References

  1. URI President appointed by Secretary Napolitano to new to new Homeland Security council
  2. How many people have been killed by guns since Newtown?
  3. Hofstra University student shot and killed by police trying to save her. A Hofstra University student was accidentally killed by a police officer on Friday during a home invasion and robbery, according to reports.
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Peter Nightingale is a theoretical physicist and teaches at the University of Rhode Island. He strives to leave behind a more just and peaceful, sustainable post-capitalist world for future generations, and his children and grandchildren in particular.

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