Neighborhood watch or neighborhood threat?
LENZISUDDUTH | Guest Columnist
Many of us have heard the controversy about Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a community watchman in Sanford, Fla on Feb. 26. The dispute over whether the watchman’s deadly actions were done in self-defense has yet to be decided. Conflicting evidence indicates that both Martin and Zimmerman were the victims of the other’s violent acts in the situation. As of now, no one is sure what happened that night in February, but one thing is certain: If the watchman, George Zimmerman, was not carrying a firearm, then Trayvon Martin would not have been shot. There may have still been a confrontation between the two, but the chances of death would have been highly unlikely.
To attain a conceal-carry license you have to have a clean criminal background and pass a test of licensure. Zimmerman may have been trained on gun safety, but there is no evidence that indicates his ability to deal with confrontation or other police actions. In fact, reports state that Zimmerman was an insurance underwriter prior to his job of watchman, a position he was appointed to because he was the only person to volunteer at a community meeting. Zimmerman was instructed to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior and call 911 if he noticed anything out of the ordinary. In his personal account of that night, Zimmerman admitted to following Martin, thus taking action into his own hands, which he ought not have done. Obviously, Zimmerman exceeded his authority and overstepped his job description.
I do not necessarily feel that a conceal-carry permit is bad. I do, however, feel that these licenses have the potential to be abused, and I feel that stipulations to the law need to be passed. I feel that this is especially prevalent when it comes to people who are trusted to use passive behaviors in certain positions, rather than aggressive ones. I think that having a conceal-carry permit made Zimmerman feel he was empowered to take matters into his own hands, even though he lacked the training necessary to do so. I am very against conceal-carry permits for citizens without formal training. This restriction could save many lives, and, if one had been in place earlier, it could have saved 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Educated carriers mean safer community
CHRIS STOCKTON | Guest Columnist
I am an active member of Gorillas for Concealed Carry at Pittsburg State University and a very strong supporter of the Second Amendment, one of the very chisels that helped shape America. As such, I feel the right to protect one’s self, family or fellow citizens in need is of the utmost importance. In the case of Trayvon Martin, I feel George Zimmerman, or any law-abiding citizen, should be allowed to exercise their right to carry a weapon for self-defense. I am not arguing that Mr. Zimmerman was right in what he did; that is for a jury, not the media, to decide. Mr. Zimmerman is entitled to due process under the law, just like everyone else.
It’s easy to take a case like this and use it to argue against gun rights. However, those who jump on the opportunity to use this case for that reason, while the facts are still unclear, clearly demonstrate their anti-gun bias. Similarly these same people will take what happened on April 2 at Oikos University in East Oakland, Calif., where seven people were killed, plus the two shootings at Virginia Tech in the last few years, and use them to argue for stricter gun control laws, completely ignoring the fact that Oikos University is a “gun-free” zone. In light of the random acts of craziness going on these days, I feel it is very important for anyone choosing to carry a gun to be educated on gun rights and control and be properly trained too. There are no physical barriers keeping guns off campus, and you can never really be sure that the person next to you in class or walking next to you on the sidewalk isn’t going to open fire. I am one of many students who would feel safer knowing there were licensed and trained, students and faculty at any given location who could react to a hostile situation instead of no one being able to do a thing to stop it. If a potential gunman knew that there were concealed-carry holders around who could counter their terroristic threats then they would be less likely to act out.
Pitt State is currently an open campus, which means that the current, gun-free policy provides virtually no protection. Any person can walk into any room in any building, and this very thing could happen to us. I am sure the places where shootings have occurred thought it would not happen to them either, but it did! The Kansas Legislature is debating Kansas House Bill 2353, which is an amendment to the current Personal and Family Protection Act. If passed it will allow properly trained and licensed students and faculty to carry on campus. If the university chooses not to let us carry then they have to take the security measures of guarding and securing the doors to prevent a gunman from entering. I encourage everyone to read this bill, and come to meetings of the Gorillas for Concealed Carry, or search for us on Facebook at Gorillas for Concealed Carry on Campus. Your voice counts!