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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Letter to the editor: Guns off Campus

Published: November 16, 2007
Section: Opinions

Dear Editor,

As a parent of a Brandeis student (Myka Held '09), I have examined with interest the various viewpoints on the decision to arm the Brandeis police. I was especially struck, however, by the words of Chrissy Callahan (Give the Police a Chance, Nov. 9), daughter of Public Safety Director Ed Callahan, who primarily opined that the Brandeis police are family-oriented, hardworking, serious and dedicated men and women. Ms. Callahan seems to have missed the debate on campus – a debate that strikes at the heart of the Brandeis environment.

Of course the police do the best they can, are good people, honest and proud, but that ignores the arguments of those that oppose the arming of the campus. Brandeis is a wonderful community with a rich and storied past. In my view, it is an idyllic setting for learning – and its history and warmth would be indelibly marred with 9 mm glocks at the ready. The debate is about whether the community will be more or less safe with armed police on campus. I have seen no evidence that even one incident where an armed force with loaded weapons could have prevented injury or death. The decision to arm the public safety officers is an over reaction – part of a post 9-11 mentality that has generated this new assault on liberty.

If by chance there is one accidental shooting that injures or even takes an innocent life, what have we accomplished? How quickly we forget Kent State and Jackson State.

How quickly the Jeff Miller's of the world – those whose lives were shattered, innocent lives – are buried in the history books. (Note to self: try to use recent examples of innocent victims, i.e. Sean Bell of New York). Santayana coined an expression about those who cannot remember the past (they are condemned to repeat it). Perhaps a review of the tragedies that have befallen the families of innocent victims of police misconduct would inform the current debate.

Importantly, Ms. Callahan ignores the real threat of an armed campus. The arguments made by those that prefer serenity should not be viewed as attacking the integrity of the police – we need them, respect them and Ms. Callahan's love for her father – and his profession – should be respected and admired. But we should also respect and carefully consider the tranquility of the campus – the pure intellectual environment;

and those that are considering this issue should be distressed that the community could look more like an armed camp rather then the Brandeis U. that we have come to love.

– Robert S. Held