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Book of Matthew: Special Edition: Guns

Published: November 16, 2007
Section: Opinions


Welcome to a special edition of the Book of Matthew. As promised, I would like to take the time to reflect on letters and articles written on an issue that has divided our school. Im talking about guns.

We all know that this world is not perfect. Violence occurs everyday, and a large portion of it is gun violence. Unfortunately, this violence has caused our society to view all guns as evil implements of death. While it is true that gun crimes are terrible tragedies, murder in cold blood is not the sole purpose of guns. Guns can be used a powerful deterrent to stop tragic crimes, without even being fired. Yes, there are people who should never be allowed to hold guns, but there are also people who should never go to work without them.

Most police in the U.S. are armed with guns, and most citizens accept this. Even small towns, such as my own hometown, have police forces that are armed. I thought this was normal, until I came to Brandeis. Here, the idea of an armed police force is so outlandish that it has been met with fierce protest, and has created a controversy that has lasted for almost two and a half months. Quite honestly, I dont understand what the problem is.

Emma Needleman (Why we fear authority, Nov. 2) claims Brandeis students are afraid of our police, and shut up and start walking faster when passing an officer. Now, I dont know about her, but I have never seen a reason to fear any police, let alone those on campus. In my time at Brandeis, I have found them to be friendly and helpful, a far cry from the powerful menaces that they have been portrayed as. These officers are simply here to protect us, and for that they deserve respect.

And yet for some reason, a lot of Brandeis students seem to feel that we dont need protection. In his November 2nd letter to the editor, Brian Rabb claimed that gun laws in Massachusetts would be able to prevent a tragic incident like the Virginia Tech Shooting from happening at Brandeis. I would like to believe that this is true, but I know we cannot rely on the laws alone. First of all, as Andrew Hogan points out in his November 9th letter to the editor, guns are not the only dangerous weapons out there. Knives are extremely easy to get a hold of, and quite dangerous in the wrong hands. Second, gun laws, though strict, cannot stop a person with no record of criminal activity or mental illness from buying a gun and committing a crime. In short, we are vulnerable.

I recently saw a sign on campus that showed a picture of an intimidating, shady-looking man pointing a gun. This sign was supposed to oppose the arming of campus police, but I see this man as the kind of person who could easily enter the Brandeis campus and harm students. To the students who put up the sign, imagine you are in a situation where such an individual is threatening you. What would you like the campus police to do for you? Would you like them to wait for armed backup, wasting time and risking your life, or would you like them to charge in unarmed, putting their own lives in unnecessary danger? Either way, someone innocent would probably get hurt or killed, and no one wants that.

Benjamin Franklin once said, Those who would give up liberty for safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. This was a fine idea for the 18th century, but our modern day has shown us that without some safety, we can have no liberty. Brandeis police need guns to ensure that we students can have both. I say this, not as a gun advocate, but as a simple student who would like to be able to rely on law enforcement if necessary. I hope that as time goes on, more students will realize that this is a good thing.