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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Shopping for Truth: Clearing up confusion

Defense of cops doesn't mean support of guns

Published: November 30, 2007
Section: Opinions

First off, I’d like to say thank you to Matt Lawrence and Robert Held for taking the time to read my article “Give the Police a Chance” (November 9) and taking the time to respond to it. It’s nice to know that not just my family and friends read my column. Who would have known that I’d write something that would stir up some debate? But now we have to get to the pink elephant in the room. Obviously I disagree with you both, otherwise I’d have had to think up another topic for this week’s column.

I’d like to point out that my article was not an “editorial” as Lawrence said, it was an opinions column. I’d also like to clarify something – my article was not about the gun debate per se. And a close reading of my ‘argument’ would have shown anyone who read it what I meant. I prefaced my article by saying that I wasn’t going to debate the decision to arm Brandeis police. I know people are tired of hearing that, and honestly, I think I would have gotten more complaints had I written about that specifically. I wrote, “Sure, you’re probably thinking, why do I want to hear another rant about how much some student hates/loves the idea? But this is neither of the above… So in this article, I would like to paint you a picture of the real Brandeis public safety department.” This was the express point of my article – to say something nice about these great men and women, not to throw my opinion about guns into the pool; we’ve had enough of that.

To Matt Lawrence, I’m sorry that my article offended you and SODA, but I wasn’t even talking about you, so please don’t take offense where there was none intended. If you reread my article, you will find that I never once mentioned SODA. I have no problem with SODA. In fact, I’m all for voicing your opinions and trying to enact change where you feel it is needed. So from this point, I applaud you for bravely defending something you believe in. However, I myself feel offended by your article.

Mr. Held claims that I’ve “missed the debate on campus – a debate that strikes at the heart of the Brandeis environment.” It would be nearly impossible for me to have missed the debate, though, seeing as I live with my father and attend Brandeis.

So it would seem my hand is being forced. I never intended to debate guns, but I guess I will say a few things about it now. First, let’s not forget that the amendment which grants Lawrence and Held the freedom to respond to my article also grants the Brandeis cops the right to carry arms.

Lawrence cites SODA’s concerns that the presence of guns on campus will “create a climate of intimidation…and permanently alter the …healthy [Brandeis] environment,” however, wouldn’t a school shooting do the same thing?

I’m not ignorant, and I’m not some psycho who believes that guns solve all. Normally, I would be opposed to guns, but history has proven that guns are sometimes necessary. And fear not, I’m well-researched on the matter. I’m currently toiling away at a research paper on the Columbine shooting and have thoroughly explored the sources who claim that gun control laws would have solved everything. I’m not saying that guns are the magical cure all, in fact I myself strongly disagree with the idea that guns solve all, but just as gun control laws could have partially prevented Columbine, so too can preventative arming of the Brandeis police ease the fallout of a potential shooting. God forbid someone the likes of the Virginia Tech shooter invades the Brandeis campus, what do we propose the cops do? And please don’t tell me that this is impossible, because VA Tech and Columbine both proved that no matter how isolated and idyllic an area you may think you inhabit, no one is immune to violence penetrating the walls of idealism.

But sadly, we can’t win the debate. If there ever were a shooting at Brandeis, we all know that the cops would be criticized in the aftermath for not having taken preventative measures, but these very measures are being criticized now. Give them a break!

Mr. Held claims that I’ve “ignore[d] the real threat of an armed campus,” that “arguments made by those that prefer serenity should not be viewed as attacking the integrity of the police,” and that an armed Brandeis will turn the campus into “an armed camp.” This is rather alarming to me. I love this campus as much as anyone, but what’s more important- a vision of a perfect, isolated suburbia, or a campus ready to defend its inhabitants against potential harm? I’d choose reality over idealism any day. And let’s be realistic, do we really think that Brandeis is going to turn into Camp David? The cops aren’t going to tote shotguns around campus 24-hours a day!

Let’s also remember that opposition to guns has had ample opportunity to be voiced the past several months. It’s all over campus, but solidarity with the men and women that serve us is lacking. I decided to defend these people because it seems so unfair that the debate is playing out very lopsided lately. Let the police have a chance to be commended without dredging up the debate once again.

I fully respect people’s concerns that there might be potential abuse of guns, though I don’t agree. This fear is fully justified in its own respect given the historical evidence Lawrence and Held offer, yet we must remember that they don’t just give guns to random people on the street. As I stated before, Brandeis cops will go through training. And if there were ever abuse, doesn’t it show a lack of trust in the justice system to completely distrust the decision to arm? Should anything like Kent State ever happen – which I highly doubt – wouldn’t you believe that justice would be served?

So please, don’t anyone take offense to this. I simply meant to say that we need to relax and realize that the decision has been made. Coming from the Thanksgiving holiday, I think we would all do well to step back and simply be thankful for the opportunity to discuss this controversial issue. And whether or not the decision to arm was a good one, it’s done, and we need to accept that. Have faith in the administration-they’re doing the best that they can.