During the past year, a wave of student violence has washed over college campuses across America, leaving dozens dead and thousands devastated.
In response to these developments, members of the Student Assembly and the Cornell College Republicans sponsored Resolution 17 for concealed carry of weapons on campus, which failed to pass at Thursday's S.A. meeting.
The resolution called for S.A. President C.J. Slicklen '09 to ask the administration to do what it can to change New York State's gun law.
Current New York State law stipulates that citizens are not allowed to conceal and carry guns on college campuses. However, citizens over 21 years old may conceal and carry guns on public property.
Debate on Resolution 17 originally started last week, but was subsequently tabled until yesterday's meeting to give S.A. members more time to develop their arguments on both sides of the issue and come up with adequate support for their arguments. However, not everyone was enthusiastic about revisiting the issue.
"I think [the College Republicans] are taking a very extreme position on a matter that is clearly of a sensitive nature. They need to take more time to look over New York State laws and familiarize themselves with that, and had they bothered to do that before bringing forth this resolution, we would not be sitting here today looking it over," said S.A. representative Rebecca Stein '10, a member of the College Republicans.
Discussion quickly became heated and at times passionate as the S.A. and the community exchanged views. Both sides claimed statistical backing and produced reasons, but the general sentiment of the meeting, and of the student body, was that concealed carry is unnecessary and unfit for Cornell.
"I have overheard many groups talking about this randomly, and I have not heard one group of people talking about it, supporting it. As the LGBTQ liaison, I have polled my constituency on this resolution and not one person supported it. I do not think it is responsible to pass this resolution," said Ashley McGovern '08.
McGovern's sentiments were quickly echoed by representatives from almost all segments of the student body, most of whom were firmly against the resolution. Perhaps most critical of the resolution was Elan Greenberg '08, a representative at-large and the former president of the S.A, who denounced it as one of the most illogical resolutions presented to the S.A. in recent memory, and that it has done more harm than good to the cause of concealed carry.
Among the few who supported Resolution 17 was William Lane '10.
"What I do not hear a lot of are hard numbers to back up evidence of the correlation between increasing gun prevalence and increasing crime. We should allow ourselves the right to defend ourselves, because liberty exercised properly is its own best defense," Lane said.
At times, the position of the proponents of the resolution seemed untenable, but their primary message remained clear: to uphold every citizen's Second Amendment right to bear arms.
"People can bring guns onto campus illegally, but if someone wants to follow the law legally, they cannot. Our main points are the protection of our constitutional rights and fighting for people who want to follow the law," said Salem '08, an S.A. representative at-large and chair of the Cornell College Republicans. "Do we want Cornell to become an institution that usurps our constitutional rights one at a time? I think the answer for me and many Ivy League students is no, even if Cornell has the right to do so."
The proponents of the resolution examined the issue from various angles and argued that concealed carry would benefit faculty and staff the most.
"Obtaining a permit [to carry] requires a lot of waiting time and money. Ontop of that, you have to be at least 21 before you can start the process, eliminating ¾ of our undergraduate student body. So people who are most likely to benefit from this resolution are faculty members and staff, allowing them to feel safe in the lecture halls," said Rachel Quigley '09, a member of the College Republicans.
However, in the end, the will of the majority prevailed and the resolution was voted down by a vote of 3-14-1.
"I think the discussion was very respectful on both sides. Both issues were addressed fully and the decision ultimately made was in the best interest of the students," said S.A. Representative Chris Basil '10.
The resolution was originally sponsored by Mark Coombs '08, director of elections and a Sun columnist, and Salem.
© 2008 Cornell Daily Sun via U-WIRE