We’re all familiar with the red and blue election maps that aim to show us which parts of our country subscribe to certain political ideologies.
One important function of these graphics is that they remind us to consider the ways that political climates can change based on where we live. For example, it’s certainly no secret that Indiana will appear red on just about any political map.
And yet, throughout the state there are also pockets of blue communities, including Bloomington, that are much more liberal than the supposed Hoosier norm suggests.
In the context of state legislature, which parts of the state matter most?
The classic American answer says the bigger ones. Majority rules when you’re trying to do what’s best for everyone, and because public policies are standardized to apply to large constituencies, the strategy is usually to accommodate as many people as possible.
For many matters of public concern, this is a reasonable strategy. For the matter of carrying concealed weapons on college campuses, it is not.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, eight states currently have laws that allow citizens to carry concealed weapons on the college campuses.
This is a problem. The people working and studying on any given college campus have made voluntary commitments to be in the specific environment that school offers, and these commitments reflect significant personal values.
Students and staff should have the efficacy to shape their school’s environment in a way that best suits the needs of their academic experience, and this is especially important when it comes to the presence of weapons on campus.
As University of Texas professor, Lisa Moore, said in an interview published in the New York Times, there is concern that weapons in classrooms will inhibit genuine discussion among students whose fear of violent repercussions might prevent them from expressing their true opinions.
Moore and two other professors sued the university and the state of Texas for instating the so-called campus carry law and said she wants “students getting their mind blown to remain a metaphor.”
It’s important to note that campus carry laws, like any other controversial legislative movement, are not without support.
Proponents of these laws argue that their Second Amendment rights entitle them to take measures for self-protection and that college campuses have a lot of potential for danger.
Out of respect for both sides of this issue, it should be up to each individual university to decide whether it will allow the carrying of concealed weapons on its campus. Laws supporting this notion already exist in 23 states, including Indiana, but they should be the standard nationwide.
If we want to tailor the concept of majority rule so that it more appropriately serves institutions of higher education, then we should narrow the constituency so that it focuses on the population that will actually be affected.