Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

HB 512, An Open Letter to Senator Henson and the Georgia Assembly

Dear Senator,

HB 512 recently passed the state house and is now on its way to the Senate. As my representative, I would like to express my fear and frustration at this bill and my encouragement for you to vote “no”.

I graduated last fall with my M.A. In sociology and have been an instructor for the past three semesters. This semester is my first in front of a classroom, rather than teaching online.

I love my students. They are smart and engaged, they let me know in no uncertain terms that I have made the right career choice. I am so grateful to have found my place in the world.

However…

in my first several months in front of the classroom I have dealt with students who may be mentally unstable, who can be combative and who often feel entitled. Allowing students to bring a firearm into the classroom limits the ability of a new instructor to safely learn classroom management and to maintain authority over the setting.

We are gun owners, my husband is a navy veteran, and I firmly believe in the REASONABLE right to own a weapon.

A classroom is sacred. It should be a safe place for fervent and excited discussion, a place where disagreements can happen without fear.

It should be a place without the need to go on the offensive, where minds and hearts are opened and critical thinking is fed!

Each State institution has a police force, security officers and/or agreements with local law enforcement to keep students and faculty safe. These men and women are trained to do such a job and in my personal experience are committed to excellence.

The classroom is not the place for a weapon, unless that weapon is the mighty pen.

I don’t want to fear my students.

Please vote no.

Sincerely,
TheLittlePecan
Instructor
University [Redacted]
[Redacted] College

Written by thelittlepecan

March 11, 2013 at 2:47 pm

18 Responses

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  1. I agree with the position you have taken in regards to guns on college campuses. I also think it is monumentally stupid to believe that carrying guns in bars will result in anything but unnecessary deaths. If you put alcohol into someone that has maturity issues or anger control issues, they can be hard to control. Now add a gun to the equation and you have a very dangerous if not deadly scenario. I am opposed to H.B. 512 for a number of reasons. As such I started a petition to be presented to the State Senate and Gov Deal next week. Please consider signing on to it. The link is http://signon.org/sign/oppose-hb-512-in-the

    Charles O. Hendrix Jr.

    March 16, 2013 at 10:55 am

    • Hi Charles!
      Thanks for weighing in, and to everyone (even those not being as polite) for visiting and talking. I had a real stressful week last week and was off my debate game, so apologize for that.

      I heard back from my senator and as a Dem, he’s assured me he’s voting ‘no’. I’ll check out the petition.

      thelittlepecan

      March 19, 2013 at 10:37 am

  2. “You can’t FIRE in a crowded theater!”, unless there is a fire, because it puts people in danger. A firearm in a holster, purse, or backpack doesn’t put anyone in danger.

    James

    March 15, 2013 at 11:28 am

    • No but putting guns around kids who have low self-control, high rates of drug and alcohol abuse and a range of other differences between older adults (like an instructor) can put people in danger.

      One of the reasons college campuses are so safe is BECAUSE they restrict weapons.

      My point is that all rights are restricted. You may not find that to be a dangerous situation, but there’s evidence to the contrary.

      My position is aligned with Students For Gun Free Schools. You can find more about them here: http://www.studentsforgunfreeschools.org/CampusLeaderGuidelines.pdf

      I realize not everyone agrees with me and that’s fine. But my opinion is my own and it is informed. I vote my conscience and you vote yours.

      thelittlepecan

      March 19, 2013 at 10:26 am

  3. Thelittlepelican got told. This is typical “my emotions are more important than your facts.”

    fish

    March 15, 2013 at 7:26 am

    • My ultimate question is, Do you want them to ban weapons in the classroom because you want to 1. BE SAFE or 2. FEEL SAFE?

      Because a law banning weapons in the classroom will on do one of the above not both.

      Your freedom of speech often makes me uncomfortable i would appreciate it if you didnt exerciser it in a public manner only at home. <– Does that mean we can restrict the 1st amendment as well? (if you bring up child porn please note that Child porn violates someones rights, Owning a Gun does not so strawman somewhere else)

      Jay

      March 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

      • Jay,
        You’re kind of all over the place here.

        1. School are ALREADY safe. So yes, restricting guns helps keep them that way.

        2. There are already plenty of restrictions on Free Speech. However, the 1st Amendment protects against prosecution, not against me dismissing you from my class for acting out, talking in a side conversation or being rude.

        thelittlepecan

        March 19, 2013 at 10:27 am

    • I guess if that’s the kind of conversation you’d like to have, sure. I think I have plenty of facts on my side. You’re welcome to disagree, but there’s no reason to be rude.

      thelittlepecan

      March 19, 2013 at 10:28 am

  4. Unfortunately, unless your university has a closed campus and metal detectors at every entrance to every building, firearms are undoubtedly already on campus and in classrooms. All HB 512 does is allow those who operate in accordance to law, who are over the age of 21, who possess a Georgia Weapons License, and who have undergone rigorous background checks to ensure that they are law abiding citizens the ability to defend themselves on your campus. I would like you to keep in mind that the state of Virginia allows students to have firearms on campus. I’m sure you know what happened at VA Tech, but do you know what happened at the Appalachian School of Law? Two students retrieved firearms from their vehicles and subdued the shooter. If these students had their firearms on their person, it is possible that the shooter could have been met with resistance sooner and more lives could have been saved? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachian_School_of_Law_shooting

    With regard to the Aurora Century Theatres shooting, there were several other theaters that were closer to the shooter’s apartment at 1690 Paris St, Aurora, Colorado. Is it possible that the shooter chose that theater in particular because it was it was the closest theater that barred patrons from carrying concealed? http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/09/10/did-colorado-shooter-single-out-cinemark-theater/

    David

    March 13, 2013 at 7:30 am

    • Actually, college campuses are some of the safest places in America with a crime rate significantly lower than their surrounding communities.

      Additionally, given the make-up of student populations (more women than men; less students prone to high-risk behaviors) the likelihood of many guns on campus is low. 7% of men and >2% of women report bringing a concealed weapon (not just guns) to campus and those students are generally more likely to engage in high risk behaviors.

      WHICH means they are less likely to be in class regularly and more likely to get the benefit of an intervening influence from the VPAA’s office or the counseling center.

      Law enforcement is overwhelmingly against vigilante justice. When more guns come out in a situation it becomes much more difficult for them to do their jobs. There is no statistically significant relationship between legally concealed weapons and a faster take down of a shooter. Legal guns in homes are associated with higher death and injury rates. With the exception of women carrying to prevent rape and attacks from an unknown person (which is also a small # of rapes and assaults), guns aren’t associated with higher safety.

      However, all of that is completely irrelevant. I’m not scared of a one-off event like VT. At all. It’s a statistical anomaly. My concern is about the power differential between me and a student with a weapon in my class.

      Do I think they will shoot me? No. Do I think it’s appropriate in a classroom? No.

      Should I have some control over what is and is not appropriate in my course environment? Yes.

      I’m a new instructor. Learning classroom management isn’t an inherent skill. I can think of three students right away that probably own legal weapons and would take up the opportunity to carry on campus if allowed. That thought makes me quite uncomfortable in each instance. They are good kids…but their impulse control and privileged attitude sound like a bad combo with a gun when they find out they failed an exam or that, no, I won’t make an exception.

      It’s not about getting shot. It’s about intimidation. And it’s about what kind of classroom in MY course that i would like to maintain. A course I’m privileged to teach because I busted MY ass to obtain a degree so that I could teach in a manner that I think is appropriate.

      They want guns in their classroom? They are welcome to finish their schooling and run their course however they like.

      My students have the right to free speech, but if they threaten or call me a name or are otherwise disrupted they are excused from my class. A student my have the right to own and/or carry a weapon, but that does not guarantee them (not should it) the right to take it wherever they like.

      I know of no university, academic or campus police organizations that support concealed weapons or weapons at all on campus.

      thelittlepecan

      March 13, 2013 at 8:23 am

      • Using your own figures, those 7% of men and roughly 2% of women are already illegally carrying a weapon on campus. As a current student at a university in Georgia, I am concerned about that 9%. Let’s say the student population is 12,000, I do not like the idea of 1,080 illegally armed students. We are not concerned at all about a power differential between the student and the professor. We are concerned about the differential between us and the 1,080. Also, look at the statistics regarding rape. The reason why the number of rapes and attacks by an unknown assailant are small is because the numbers are higher that these rapes and attacks come from someone the females know (http://www.nij.gov/topics/crime/rape-sexual-violence/campus/know-attacker.htm).

        I own firearms and legally carry concealed so that no entity has unjust power over me or my life, the key word being unjust. I have the ability to defy any attempt to exert either. Any person carrying a firearm with the attitude that it gives them power over any individual is carrying one for the wrong reasons and it is their own internal dilemma to resolve.

        A university in our neighboring state of Alabama, Jacksonville State, allows students to carry a concealed firearm on campus with a permit. Please investigate the occurrences of vigilantism, professor intimidation, and alcohol induced shootouts from arguments as a result of their policies. You say that your students are welcome to finish their schooling if they do not like their current universities policies. This is true. You are also welcome to continue teaching at a private university where it is left up to the university to decide whether or not to allow firearms on campus, provided HB 512 passes and you wish to use absolutes.

        As it stands, you wish to maintain the status quo and I do not. You wish to have public universities remain Gun Free or Gun Safety Zones and I do not. Just what is one of these zones? How do we make one? They are magical zones surrounded by magical signs (where applicable). When one of these magical zones is created, simply by declaration, it is enveloped by a magical force field where illegally carried weapons cannot pass. When someone decides they want to carry illegally in one of these zones and they arrive at a magical sign or the invisible force field’s perimeter, they change their mind and put their weapon back in their car. Or, if they decide to enter this magical zone, their weapon instantly dematerializes.

        HB 512 is about Georgia getting proactive. Mass shootings are a statistical anomaly by your own words, but the idea behind the legislation is shifting the balance of force and power in the favor of the law abiding citizens. How many people have thought “it cannot happen here” after Columbine in 1999 and have been wrong? HB 512 affords the opportunity of GA students to say, “to the best of my abilities I will not allow it to happen at my university.” It is a deterrent to those who would do harm given the possibility that they will be quickly met with resistance. Gun Free Zones create an illusion of safety for its inhabitants, proven more and more by each additional shooting that occurs in them. If HB 512 passes and nobody on my campus exercises their new “privilege” of carrying on campus it would still create an illusion of danger for those who wish to do harm.

        David

        March 14, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      • “My students have the right to free speech, but if they threaten or call me a name or are otherwise disrupted they are excused from my class. A student my have the right to own and/or carry a weapon, but that does not guarantee them (not should it) the right to take it wherever they like.”

        I see that you would expect your students to exercise their Second Amendment rights at home, but not in your classroom. Do they also have to keep their First Amendment rights at the house? If not, do you think we can pick and choose for others which legal rights they can exercise?

        Dan

        March 14, 2013 at 9:07 pm

        • Your answer is right there in the quote.

          Do you yell, “fire!” in a crowded theater?

          I’ll not get into a back forth over something I didn’t say or mean just to appease people who disagree with me.

          Rights come with responsibilities. Just because we have them doesn’t mean we should exercise them at all times and all places.

          thelittlepecan

          March 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm

          • I also believe that rights come with corresponding responsibilities. People who are licensed by the state of Georgia to legally carry a firearm are all over 21 and ARE responsible people. The FBI vets them and says so, and the probate judge of your home county vets them and says so. I can understand you being worried about just anyone having a weapon in your classroom. I taught adults for 8 years and it would bother me too, but since I am a licensed firearm carrier and know about the process and know about people who carry every day, I have no fear of someone with a legally carried firearm. As a matter of fact I feel safer with them around because I know how seriously they take their responsibility. Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this with you.

            Dan

            March 14, 2013 at 10:47 pm

          • First, Dan, thanks for being so polite!

            People can be 21 or older. There’s plenty of evidence that the brain is not fully developed until years beyond this point. Younger persons are more likely to be impulsive and college students are more likely to engage in risky behaviors.

            I’m not arguing against the ability to conceal carry. I do have issues with that, but it’s not a battle I think I can win, so I choose other things. This is something that could affect me, so I care.

            I don’t feel more or less safe with guns around in the abstract. I feel uncomfortable with guns in the classroom of a college full of 18-25 year olds.

            thelittlepecan

            March 19, 2013 at 10:32 am

        • Also, the right to something means the right free from government prosecution…not the right to be free from consequences.

          I don’t want weapons in my classroom. The thought makes me uncomfortable. It makes all the professors I know uncomfortable. It makes on campus police uncomfortable.

          As a citizen, I have a responsibility to voice my concerns to my representatives, just as those who disagree with me do.

          You don’t have to like it or agree with me, but arguing points I didn’t make just makes a mulberry bush.

          I did my civic duty. You should, too.

          thelittlepecan

          March 14, 2013 at 9:15 pm

          • I have written and called the legislators in Atlanta several times concerning HB 512, if that is what you mean when you say civic duty. My correspondence has been in support of that bill. You say the thought of weapons in your classroom make you uncomfortable. What about the students, especially the ones at GT, who are uncomfortable about all the crime on and near the campus? Some of them would be a lot more comfortable if the could carry a weapon with them to defend themselves. They don’t want to replace campus cops, or go up against an active shooter if that rare event were to present itself. They want to have a chance to defend themselves if they need to. They can’t right now without breaking the law because people like yourself think that your comfort level is more important than the Constitution of our United States, which it is not.

            Dan

            March 14, 2013 at 9:51 pm

          • We can’t make policy based on one campus. I’m a huge Tech fan, so I spend quite a bit of time down there during the football season. I also attended GSU for a while when I was a LOT younger. It can be unsafe, sure, but the statistics don’t make it significantly more unsafe overall. I’ve never had a bad experience at either place, but again, my experience isn’t reliable data either.

            I think there are things that GT, GSU and other urban campuses can do to cut down crime…but as with most colleges, a lot of that has to do with student on student crime, primarily sexual assault from one individual on another when both parties know each other.

            That’s a whole ‘nother discussion though!

            thelittlepecan

            March 19, 2013 at 10:35 am


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