Last month the U.S. Department of Defense gave Arizona Western College nine military-grade assault rifles as part of its ongoing Weapons Surplus Program, which distributes arms and other military equipment to school districts across the country.

Already, plenty of controversy surrounds this program, which was launched by the DOD two years ago. Is this a good idea or not?

Let’s not respond with fear

By Connie A. Garcia

Don’t public schools usually try and teach non-violence? Arming the College with military-grade assault rifles defeats its own purpose; actually, it seems downright hypocritical. Why is the government arming its schools instead of providing resources that students and teachers actually need, like lower textbook and tuition costs and even higher wages for teachers.

It seems silly that a school would need any sort of militarized weaponry. Who’s going to be using them? On top of teachers already being overworked, is the government or local police going to provide specialized training in using such equipment, or are the schools going to have to hire trained personnel or train the already existing security staff? Isn’t that going to cost the school more money?

I understand that this is a part of a weapons surplus program, but that brings up another point – excessive military spending that could have instead been used for public education.

Perhaps arming staff at school would stop a dangerous perpetrator more quickly, but I’m more concerned about a faculty member or a student using the weapons against each other, or about somebody accidently getting caught in a crossfire.

Even in the extreme case of just such a dangerous perp going on a shooting rampage, how quickly is a member of the faculty likely to react? The stress and panic would most certainly inhibit a quick response, and staying calm under pressure is extremely difficult, even for highly trained individuals.

Responding with fear tends to compromise our reasoning powers, so much so that it seems like a good idea to solve a problem with the same problem – in this case, guns with more guns – but that really isn’t the case. How many times in our history have some of these ideas – Japanese-American internment camps, the Vietnam War, the Red Scare, our response to 9/11 by invading Iraq, etc. – seemed like good ideas at the time, but then we realized too late that perhaps they really weren’t?


Security – the American Way

By Cynthia Riveles

Are you kidding me? This is a fantastic idea! To me, it has been the best thing that has happened to Arizona Western College since I’ve lived in Yuma.

Don’t schools promote a safe environment? Aren’t administrators always telling us that we should feel safe on campus? Well, now that AWC has received nine surplus weapons, there is no reason why we should feel unsafe anymore.

Most students are asking themselves if this will cost the school money for hiring trained personnel or training the already existing security staff. The answer is simple: People who will hold the weapons will most likely go through an extensive eight-hour training block that also includes a personal history questionnaire. This is what mostly everybody who wants to legally possess a gun goes through.

Further, if the price of these weapons were repurposed, that could never be nearly enough to lower the cost of tuition or even textbooks for every student.

This is not being hypocritical; this is what America is all about – protecting its citizens and giving them the ability to safely walk on school campuses. Handgun violence on campus is actually rare. Yes, we do hear about it in the news, but keep in mind that there are thousands of colleges in the country. It’s not like every school has a shooting every day, but what if one day a mentally ill shooter starts killing people.

For example, have you ever thought what would have gone differently for the students of Virginia Tech if the school had received guns like the ones we have now? There is no doubt that the lives of many of the students and their families would have been different.

We live in one of the twenty-three states where schools have the decision to ban or allow concealed weapons on campuses. Fortunately for us, we can now feel safer while walking to and from class any day.

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