A friend of mine messaged me in a somewhat panicked state a few months back. She is a professor at a university in Texas and her state was about to pass a “right to carry” bill that would allow concealed firearms on her campus. Wisconsin had recently passed a right to carry law that allowed for similar things and she wondered how it worked by us.
I understood why she was worried, as I also had concerns about students packing heat in my class. However, the classes I taught were pretty benign. I didn’t imagine a kid pulling out a pistol in class and saying, “Say “whom” again! I dare you! I double dare you, motherfucker!” when I corrected his or her grammar.
Tracy, however, taught race, gender and ethnicity in the media. She had larger courses filled with people who often felt white male privilege wasn’t a privilege at all, something she fully disabused them of.
She is one of my best friends, but even still, I remember a few times in doc school where the discussion got so heated, I really thought one of us was going to hit the other with a chair.
Her class can stoke a similar ire, she told me. She’s had people face off in class and she even had to break up a fight or two along the way.
“I don’t want to think about what happens when one of them pulls a gun,” she said.
Neither did I.
That said, if a gun came out in her class, I’m pretty sure the situation would end with a suicide.
This week, a professor at Delta State University was shot to death in his office. The shooter was another educator within the department, who had apparently just killed his own live-in girlfriend. The reason that Shannon Lamb shot Ethan Schmidt is still being investigated. It’s unclear what happened, and it’s unlikely that we’ll ever know because Lamb eluded police for a while before stopping his car near a wooded area and shooting himself.
The on-air murders of WDBJ journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward followed a similar pattern when Bryce Williams filmed the murders, posted them to the Web and then led police on a high-speed chase.
Suicide has been a long debated portion of society. Some people argue it’s the endgame for depression while others called it the coward’s way out. What it takes to end one’s own life is slightly beyond my comprehension, but I can’t say I know what it takes to call it a day in that way.
What I can say is that the proliferation of guns and easier access to them leads to the kinds of outcomes we’ve recently seen regarding these high-profile shootings.
Gun advocates will say things like, “If we took away all the guns, people would find other ways to kill people.” True and fine, but those ways wouldn’t be so clean and easy.
Martell Lovelace of the NRA was once quoted as saying that a gun was a recreational tool, like a tennis racket or a golf club. “You can kill someone with a golf club or a tennis racket, you know.”
So true, but at least the person on the other end has a fighting chance for self defense. Even more, have you ever heard of someone beating themselves to death with a golf club AFTER committing murder with one?
Guns offer a quick and, compared to a golf club, relatively painless way to finish the game once you realize you’ve gone too far.
You don’t have to go to jail.
You don’t have to explain yourself to authorities.
You don’t have to face your loved ones and the people you murdered.
You just escape.
Take guns out of the equation and see if Bryce Williams is going to try to butcher two people on live TV with a bayonet.
Take guns out of the equation and see if Shannon Lamb would be willing and able to beat a guy to death in his own office with a golf club.
Take guns out of the equation and see if people like this might seek help or engage in better problem-solving actions before committing the crimes and then slashing their wrists or drinking antifreeze to get out of the situation.
Guns are tools, the NRA is correct, but the easier the tools are to obtain and the easier the tools make the job, the more likely people will be to tackle the job.
If people had to think more about how they will be “going out,” maybe they wouldn’t be so eager to “get in.”