College students and faculty speak out about guns on campus

sarah gun storyFlagler junior Sarah St. John


By Caroline Everill | 

Gun control has always been a hot topic of discussion, and is getting more attention with the 2016 Presidential election. It has also become controversial on college campuses after numerous shootings and bills in the Florida Legislature that would permit concealed weapons on Florida’s college and university campuses. At Flagler College, students and professors have varying opinions on the subject and the idea of guns on campus.

Courtney Bellino, a second semester sophomore, does not believe guns have any place in the classroom. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to have a gun in that kind of environment, especially in an educational environment,” she said. “That’s not really sending the right message.”

Bellino said she would not feel safe if a fellow classmate was carrying a weapon. “If I knew someone next to me had a gun in class and I was taking a test and I was stressed, I would be like, ‘holy crap, that guy is going to kill all of us,’” she said.

Hadley Mozer, a professor of English in his 10th year teaching at Flagler, does not believe guns have a purpose in the classroom. “I don’t think that would be conducive to the learning environment,” he said.

Jake DeBellis, a junior transfer student, said he is pro guns, but isn’t so sure when it comes to campus. “Frankly, I’d rather not have guns on campus at all,” he said.

But not all art so concerned. Student Jewell Tomazin said she wouldn’t feel unsafe with students carrying firearms in class. “As long as they have a thorough background check, no mental health issues, no history of violence, etc.,” she said.

The debate isn’t just about whether students should be allowed to carry guns, but also professors. Sarah St. John, a second semester junior, is not opposed to professors carrying guns on campus, thinking that it might help make the school more secure. “Maybe if people knew the professors were carrying [guns] at all times they’d think twice about coming and shooting up the school,” she said.

Bellino feels differently about professors carrying weapons. “I wouldn’t feel unsafe, but I wouldn’t feel safer,” she said. “I don’t think the job of the professor or the job of the student is to protect everyone on campus. That’s the job of security.”

One question being raised by students is what can be done to prevent a school shooting from occurring on their campus. St. John makes a point that she doesn’t believe their will ever be a permanent end to school shootings: “I think there’s just sick people in the world who just have issues, and that’s just how they choose to express their issues,” she said.

Tomazin also is unsure of a way to permanently stop attacks on college campuses, and doesn’t think gun control laws will prevent every assault. “If someone wants to get one, they’ll get one,” she said.

DeBellis does not think there is a single factor causing shootings on college campus. “People like to blame the media and stuff like that, and I just think some people are just crazy and that’s just what they are going to do,” he said.

Mozer said while it’s possible guns could discourage some premeditated crime, he is more worried about additional problems it could spur. “I think it would probably contribute to more unpremeditated gun violence, arguments escalating and so forth,” he said. “I think it would probably contribute to higher suicide rates. I think probably there would be more accidents.”

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