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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

More guns do not equal more safety

Published: October 1, 2007
Section: Opinions

Of our school, it can be said that we have bred quite a few radical thinkers. From Abbie Hoffman to Angela Davis, Brandeis is no stranger to political activism. Unfortunately, though, our bubble of free thought does not extend throughout the nation. Andrew Meyer, senior at the University of Florida in Gainesville, was the subject of oppressive sanctions leading to him being dragged to the floor by no less than six police officers and ultimately being tased.

All Andrew did, though, was ask a question. Meyer was given a minute to ask a question of John Kerry at a Gainesville town meeting, and when his rant, which touched upon secret societies and Kerrys failure to contest the 2004 election results, did not come to an end, his microphone was turned off. This was not enough to shut Andrew up, though. He continued to raucously spew off his sentiment, not heeding the wishes of the present police officers that he be silenced.

Andrew continued to make a spectacle of the situation when he was then grabbed by his shirt and pulled away from the forum. Before his Miranda rights could even be read he was already being put under arrest, and could be heard vociferously shouting down the police officers actions, What are you doing? I want to stand and listen to him answer my question. Why are you arresting me for asking a question? I didn't do anything.

Andrew did do something, though: he refused to be silenced. He saw an opportunity to speak out against wrongdoing and seized it. Andrew demanded liability of a politician, and civility would not stand for it.

Radical and flippant though he may have been, I think Andrew deserves to be lauded. Andrew committed the crime of speaking over his allotted one-minute questioning period, but for the greater good. Andrew, albeit somewhat exaggeratedly, demonstrated for us as a society the extent to which police brutality can be, and often is, exercised.

And yet, as it stands, actions are now being taken on our campus to arm campus security guards. These actions are, of course, not being taken lightly: what with the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech still fresh in our minds, we are eager to have whatever protection necessary to remain safe.

Still, though, I wonder whether or not we act rashly. Of the 26 schools in the Association of American Universities (AAU), 20 of them are currently armed (ourselves excluded). These numbers, according to the Firearms Advisory Committee, have seen a recent spike since the VA Tech tragedy. It seems easy and safe to follow the trend, but the fact of the matter is that more guns does not necessarily mean more safety.

The root of gun problems is often overlooked in discussions like these. Rampant gun use shouldnt be solved by handing out more guns, but by handing out fewer. Rather than ask how gun incidents can be defused, we should ask how we can ensure that guns dont fall into the wrong hands to begin with.

Limiting gun dispersal is not unconstitutional, as some argue. A case like Andrew Meyers should be enough to tell us that more brute force does not mean better enforcement of the Bill of Rights. Freer, less accountable Second Amendment rights will not bode well for our First Amendment rights.

Ultimately we have a choice: Charlton Heston or Michael Moore. Do we fight guns with guns, or do we fight guns with peace? The answer seems obvious to me.