By: Shaya Rogers, Staff Reporter | Photo By: Shaya Rogers
Controversy has been created around signs posted on campus by a student organization.
Signs posted on Main and Montoya Campus by the CNM Shooting Club play on students’ emotions and fears about school safety, said Psychology Major Dawn Shores.
The signs are displayed behind glass in various locations around campus and say, “10 out of 10 criminals like gun free zones” and “Signs can’t stop acts of violence. Armed citizens can.”
“Because it is behind that glass, if you look at the posters around those signs, a lot of them have to do with various aspects of things you need to do at school, directives from the school. So it looks like this is sponsored by CNM,” she said.
Shores said the posters suggest that students who are on campus without a gun are not safe.
President of the Shooting Club and Electrical Engineering Major Mitchell Jackson said the signs are behind glass for a reason; two semesters ago, when the club started putting the signs up, many were torn down.
“In order to combat that, we went to the next level. We didn’t start behind glass, we started on bulletin boards and once they were pulled down we decided we had to do something different because people were infringing on our right of free speech,” he said.
Although certain areas of campus are designated as gun free zones, that does not stop criminals from bringing guns to school, he said.
“In situations like the school, we have an area that claims to be gun free, but research indicates otherwise. Research indicates that there are a certain percentage of students that bring guns to school a certain percentage of the time,” he said.
Balancing out illegal activity with legal activity would make students who agree with the right to conceal carry comfortable, he said.
“If we recognize that illegally possessed weapons are prevalent, and they are around, then we should seek to strike a balance, just like we recognize organized crime exists so we strike a balance with a police force,” he said.
Encouraging the conceal carry conversation is an essential reason why these posters are up, said Jackson.
“If nothing else, the posters are to encourage dialog, to get people to think about the fact that gun free zones aren’t [gun free]. I think once people come to the recognition that gun free zones aren’t [gun free], then they start to see guns in a little bit of a different light,” he said.
Shores said she does not think that permitting students to carry concealed weapons would succeed without incident.
“I don’t want to be in a classroom with someone who has a conceal carry gun legally and then, if for some reason, they thought someone else was pulling a gun and they weren’t, or even if they were, they could pull that gun and shoot me or anyone else by mistake,” she said.
Letting students come to an educational institution while armed puts other students in a possible dangerous situation, she said. Students may not have the proper gun training.
“I think, ‘You may be trained on how to fire a gun, but most people are not trained in how to respond to a situation correctly.’ They’ve done studies on this,” she said.
Part-time Political Science Instructor Robert Anderson said he takes issue with the signs because there is more the school and our society can do to prevent these fears without permitting students to go armed.
“This is a social disease really, a problem brought to us by unregulated market capitalism which profits from war and violent entertainment,” he said.
War and violence are glorified within our society and that is part of the problem, he said.
“We could make military type assault weapons and guns less attractive to mentally disturbed people if we did not glorify war and violence as entertainment,” he said.
Giving students the right to carry weapons is dangerous and does not solve the problem at hand – it makes it worse, he said.
“The solution lies not in individuals arming themselves like the old frontier days. We are 500 years past that in society now. The frontier is gone,” Anderson said.
F u l l – t i m e C ommu n i c a t i o n s Instructor and Shooting Club Adviser Lisa Orick-Martinez said she supports the signs.
“Colorado, Utah and Virginia all have institutions of higher education which permit concealed carry on campus. None of these institutions has seen a single resulting incident of gun violence or a resulting gun accident,” she said.
She said she has seen an increase in the number of students curious about the Shooting Club and the posters and she wants students to make sure they are educated about all aspects of gun use.
“I would ask that the person research the facts, critically think about her or his beliefs and opinions, educate her or himself in the issues and get involved,” she said.