Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

No simple answers for safety

The question of arming Public Safety officers has been asked more and more in the past several years. Since the Virginia Tech shooting, schools and universities have had to rethink their approach to ensuring student safety.
As much as we would like to believe that we are isolated from the world while we are in our school buildings, sadly this is not the case.
So should we give guns to Public Safety? Will we be safe then? Unfortunately, there will never be a simple answer to this complex question.
It is entirely possible that we will be safer in general. In a situation involving an active shooter, there can be no question that having armed Public Safety officers will result in a quicker end to the situation and fewer casualties.
But what about other, arguably more everyday situations? What about the situation on Friday, Dec. 6 at the University of the Incarnate Word in Texas, where a routine traffic stop made by a Public Safety officer resulted in the shooting death of a student?
This is where support of arming campus security wavers for many people. Of course, all of the details about what happened during that traffic stop have not been made clear to the public yet, but nevertheless it must make us all pause.
If we arm our Public Safety officers, when is it acceptable to use the weapon? If Augustana does decide to give guns to Public Safety, there will have to be long discussions as to what situations would necessitate the use of their new weapons.
Augustana administrators must also take into consideration the monetary investment that would be required. Not only are guns and ammunition expensive, but every Public Safety officer would be required to attend additional training in order to be allowed to carry the weapon.
We also must take into account the safety of our Public Safety officers themselves.
While Augustana College is not a particularly violent campus, this does not mean that they are not putting themselves at risk every time they go out on duty. Being armed with more than pepper spray could also make them feel more safe.
Arming Public Safety is a realistic step toward protecting students and faculty in an increasingly violent world, but we must proceed with caution.
The response to a broken finger cannot be to cut off the whole hand. If we over-correct we may find ourselves facing more problems than we started with.
The Observer Editorial Board was unable to reach a consensus on the topic of Augustana College arming our public safety officers. This article is one of three perspectives the editorial board is presenting on this issue. Find the other two articles here and here, and weigh in on the debate in the comments.

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No simple answers for safety