Column: College students and the General Assembly need to focus on gun control

Technology combined with a culture of violence puts college students in an increasingly risky situation.

Abigail Ruhman is a freshman journalism and political science major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about student life, politics and social issues for the Maneater.

There are things that most people worried about in high school that they can sometimes forget are also in college, like studying, drama and active shooters. The culture shock of college can cover up some of our worries about studying and drama, but gun violence on campus may become a bigger worry.

While a majority of college shootings are committed by individuals not associated with that college, about 28 percent of shooters are students. In a gun country like the U.S., we can become numb to violence. According to Vox Magazine, the U.S. can be described as a gun country because America has a unique gun violence problem. They concluded that with each mass shooting, the country became more divided on gun control policies. As of Aug. 31, 2018, the Gun Violence Archive reported 38,686 gun related incidents since the beginning of the year.

According the Pew Resource Center, Americans recognize the importance of restricting guns, but we rarely translate that into law. This may be the reason that we have not noticed the dramatic increase in college campus shootings. According to a study conducted by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, the number of shooting incidents has increased 153 percent from 2001-2006 to 2011-2016.

In the past couple of years, the debate over a set of blueprints to 3D print a gun has raised many questions about public safety and citizen rights. But a college student from Montana discovered something much worse: He was able to 3D print a part of a gun at his university. This raises the question of if our university can protect us from something a student could produce on campus. MU’s own 3D printing club can “show students how they can begin printing their own designs.” While this does not mean that they are teaching students how to create a 3D printed gun, it does teach them how 3D printers work, and where they are located on campus.

Obviously, the student would have to have the code to print the gun and have to know Missouri’s laws about guns on campus. Both of which, I, a freshman in her first month with no real experience with technology, easily accessed within about an hour. If the gun is kept in a vehicle, then it is allowed on campus according to the Missouri Rev. Stat. 571.107 (2013). All that stands between a student and an almost untraceable, unregistered gun is some time alone with 3D printer and a few dozen lines of code.

The argument has moved far beyond the Second Amendment. The Founding Fathers were not crowded around a 3D printer explaining how it was patriotic. They were walking through the acres of forest using muskets and hunting rifles to scare off big predators who posed a real threat and to fight in a war. We have to worry about more than a hunting rifle or musket that has 11 steps to fire. Technology has made this a major issue in terms of personal safety.

The major difference is they were fighting in a war. While we are fighting wars across the world, it is no longer on our soil and in our backyards. Understandably, the Second Amendment holds an important spot in a lot of people’s lives, but this is not a request to get rid of all guns. This is a plea to stop caring more about a hunk of metal that can kill 58 people and wound 489 more in just 10 minutes than human lives.

With Kansas recently allowing concealed carry on their campuses and Missouri’s rather ‘lax gun laws,’ voters need to pay attention to gun control bills going through the General Assembly in the future. It may be in the university’s best interest to oppose allowing weapons on campus due to the increased spending on security that University of Kansas saw in July of 2017.

As college students, we are in a vulnerable spot on campus. With more large classes and the freedom we are allowed, we should not have to worry more about our safety than our coursework. Being concerned about gun violence does not end in high school or start after college, it is a continuous concern throughout our lives. Recent development in technology creates easier access to firearms. Gun control does not belong on one side of the aisle politically, it belongs on our campus and in our lecture halls. Whether or not you support guns in general does not matter. What matters is that college students should be worrying about grades rather than having to worry about being shot. What matters is recognizing how much technology could put us at risk.

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