“You know, we wouldn’t be nearly as panicked if we all had guns.”
That thought kept running through my head as I tried to commute to work across MIT on Saturday morning. The rumor of a man with a gun was discomfiting, certainly, but much more so because nearly everyone at MIT is defenseless against any gun. Yet many think the correct response is to ban guns altogether.
Instead, I would suggest that MIT students and faculty be encouraged to carry. As recently as 1950, MIT students were required to take and pass two full years of military science classes, which exposed them to weaponry firsthand. Even today, rifle is one of the most popular PE classes at MIT. Switzerland has mandatory military training, and also has one of the lowest homicide rates in the world. By making concealed carry training mandatory, MIT could make its campus the safest in Massachusetts.
“What?! But MIT already has a police force dedicated solely to protecting us! And especially in cities, police are always only a few minutes away.” True, but every second counts when bullets fly. If someone opens a classroom door and begins shooting, it will be the work of only a few minutes before the police no longer matter to the people in that room. No police force in the world is everywhere at once.
“We’re private citizens, though; only the police need guns.” But why do the police carry guns? They don’t go around dispensing vigilante justice, shooting handcuffed prisoners who obviously recently committed murder. They carry guns because they know guns are the best defensive measure against an armed attacker, and they only use their gun (hopefully) if they are being attacked with similarly lethal force. The late philosopher Ronald Dworkin said one mark of a good government is one with equal concern for every citizen — is my life less important than that of a police officer? If so, am I not permitted to defend myself as well as a police officer can?
We are adults. We are capable of acting safely and treating others equally in the eyes of the law. MIT should encourage its students and faculty to carry, so that we can best preserve our truly unique community. We’re trusted to work at the nuclear reactor; can’t we be trusted to preserve our own lives? We could even add a gun safety class as a GIR to cement our safety training and knowledge of how to respond to a hostile gunman.
Gun permits can be obtained through the local police department. One must complete a Massachusetts certified firearms safety course or a basic hunter education course. Furthermore, the local police department can impose any other limitations as it sees fit.
To carry on campus, however, requires additional permits. Under Massachusetts law, chapter 269, section 10(j), “Whoever, not being a law enforcement officer … carries on his person a firearm as hereinafter defined, loaded or unloaded or other dangerous weapon in any building or on the grounds of any … college or university without the written authorization of the board or officer in charge of such elementary or secondary school, shall be punished by a fine….” Thus, anyone who can legally carry in the State of Massachusetts can petition the MIT Chief of Police to give them written authorization to carry on MIT property.
I urge you to protect yourself. Be safe, take a gun safety class, get a license, petition MIT. Take responsibility for your own life and safety, and make MIT lockdowns a thing of the past.
Tea Dorminy is a member of the Class of 2013.
Editor’s Note: In accordance with written policies and procedures, “firearms, air rifles, air pistols, b.b. guns, ammunition and tazers are not permitted on MIT property or in any Institute-approved living group.”