Risk of guns on campus not worth the reward

During my last command tour in the Marine Corps, I had a young Marine invite some of his buddies over to his house, get drunk, and accidentally put a .45 round through his own leg. The round cut the artery and he almost bled out before his friends got the bleeding under control. He lost the leg. The irony was that he had survived multiple combat tours and then, by his own hand, ended a promising career.

Now remember, these were trained combat Marines with multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq under their belts. They had seen the effects of ballistic wounds on human flesh. They also knew the potential consequences of the irresponsible handling of weapons, but they were young, bored, under the influence of alcohol, and the Marine wanted to show the new weapon to his friends.

Notice that I said this happened at the Marine’s residence off base. The Marine Corps doesn’t allow Marines to keep weapons in the barracks. Now many will decry that policy as an infringement of constitutional rights that leaves service members at risk from potential assailants. Some truth to that, but the Marine Corps had crunched the numbers and realized that the risk of accidental weapons discharges, suicide, and escalated violence scenarios were far bigger threats to Marines living in the barracks than the actions of an external assailant. The Marine Corps was willing to accept prudent risk from an external threat in order to mitigate against much more likely scenarios where Marines did harm to themselves or other Marines by having access to weapons in the barracks.

I wish our elected representatives had adopted a similar philosophy as it pertains to SB-174 and weapons in university dormitories.

SB-174 does not make our students safer and in fact puts students at greater risk. It effectively inverts the risk profile described above. By mitigating against the least likely threat in the form of a gunman in the dormitory, we expose our sons and daughters living on campus to the greatly increased risk profiles associated with accidental weapons discharges, suicide, and conflict between students that escalates to a level that has lasting tragic impacts. I hope I am wrong, but the odds are we will lose more students as a product of this legislation than we will ever save.