When you think of the College of William and Mary, do you feel safe? Could there be more ways to maintain students’ safety? Well, there could be fewer lamp posts with burned out light bulbs and maybe a bit more security at night, but we believe the College is safe. While there have been muggings and other situations that have put students’ safety at risk in the past, these situations don’t happen often. In fact, we would be hard pressed to think of a very significant breech of safety on this campus in recent history.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has implemented a law allowing firearms to be carried in public areas as long as the carrier has a proper permit. Those who proposed the law believe this to be a tool for increased safety after the tragedy at Virginia Tech only a few years ago. Recently, the Board of Visitors ruled that while firearms will be allowed on the College’s campus, they will not be permitted in campus buildings. We believe
this to be an intelligent, safe decision by the Board of Visitors.
Guns cannot be carried whether the carriers are faculty, staff, students or visitors. This policy is similar to the policy at George Mason University pertaining to guns on campus. It is important to note that even though the College is a public institution — and thus bound to state decisions on things, like the budget and hirings — the College has autonomy in this case. The Virginia Supreme Court upheld the George Mason gun policy even though it is a public school and bound to state approval and policy.
Although the motivation behind the standing gun bill — which allows for guns to carried inside of public buildings — may have been passed with good intentions, it would not work well at the College. To maintain the safety of the College, we should decrease the number of guns carried on campus. Of course, this policy may get some heat because of Second Amendment gun rights and the associated perceived violation of rights. Regardless, it is disconcerting to know that people sitting near you could have a pistol or two tucked away in his coat or her jacket.
The BOV’s decision is analogous no-smoking policies in buildings. Just as we find lingering whiffs of Marlboros distasteful, the thought of violent weapons in near proximity is disturbing.
We are happy that the BOV is being proactive rather than reactive in their decision. They are using their good judgment to make a well-thought-out decision rather than attempting to cover their backs after a major disaster. It is also good for the school from a public relations standpoint as it shows a concern for the safety of students and other members of the campus community. This is safety we agree with. We can’t have guns in our dorms for good reasons, and this rule should be consistent with all buildings on campus. When it comes down to it, this isn’t just a public space: It’s our home. And we believe that it’s in best interests of the students, faculty and staff to not allow firearms in campus buildings.