BY CAITLIN CLEMENT
Drake University is known for its political voice on topics discussed in the governmental sphere, but with the recent gun control discussion following the Florida shooting, the campus atmosphere around the subject has been a mixed debate.
Ryan Skotzke, a member of Drake College Republicans, said most of the debate on gun control he’s seen in the news and media has come from extremists in both the Democratic and Republican Parties.
“It seems that the extreme sides are the ones that are talking the loudest,” Skotzke said. “It’s either ban all the guns or give guns to all the teachers, neither of which I think are a really great solution.”
There hasn’t been much public opinion raised about the situation on Drake’s campus recently. Conversations on the topic seem to happen in more private settings amongst friends, as there is no current activism on campus for this issue.
Josh Hughes, president of the political organization Drake Democrats, is pro gun control and believes in order to lower gun violence, the nation needs a proposed ban on assault weapons nationally.
“It’s something that our country has done before in the late nineties,” Hughes said. “We banned all assault weapons nationwide and we saw crime and murder rates all drastically drop because of that, because it works.”
Skotzke gives what he believes to be the general stance on the issue within Drake College Republicans, although it is a topic they are still mulling over as a group.
“I think for a lot of us [College Republicans] our stance is to sort of maintain the status quo,” Skotzke said. “Keep protecting the Second Amendment, enforce the laws we have on the books and do those sorts of things.”
Iowa Law states that all those who wish to carry a gun must obtain a “permit to carry,” which includes background checks of the individual and the completion of a firearm safety training.
Josh Dorsch, President of Young Americans for Liberty on campus, got more into the problems he found in the statistical data and statements made in the media surrounding this national debate. He started off by bringing up the frequently used debate that gun culture leads to higher homicide rates.
“If you look at the countries and states with high rates of guns per capita or high gun ownership rates, they actually have lower gun homicide rates,” Dorsch said.
Dorsch identifies as utilitarian before he is a rights supporter, believing that natural rights and individual liberties maximize overall utility.
“I don’t start with the idea that we all have natural rights and [because] gun rights is one of them, therefore we can’t pass gun control,” said Dorsch. “[Instead] I say that gun control would fail and has failed and that’s why I am against it.”
When asked about how they feel towards their overall safety on Drake’s campus in relation to possible gun violence and active shooter situations, both Dorsch and Skotzke felt unsure of Public Safety’s ability to protect the students in such an event with Drake’s no gun policy.
Hughes’ opinion differed in that Drake’s no gun policy was the best course of action the University could take without investing a substantial amount of funding and take away from the education students would receive. He does not think this course of action is the solution to total prevention of gun violence.
“We can’t just have these gun free zones in a gun country, we need to have a gun free country where people don’t have access to these weapons of mass murder,” Hughes said.
Scott Law, the Executive Director of Campus Public Safety, gave the rundown of what procedures have been put in place at Drake in response to recent shootings and gun violence in the U.S.
When Law first arrived on campus five years ago, Drake already had an active shooter protocol that is federally recognized as Run, Hide, Fight, a plan implemented in many high schools across the country as well. In the last couple of years, in response to recent shootings, Drake has increased its active shooter training with faculty and staff.
Law also met with the LEAD program earlier in the week to work with and develop more of an outreach with students on dealing with active shooters.
“Drake’s done a lot to develop our active shooter protocol and policy,” Law said. “We work closely with the Des Moines Police Department … we have a substation right behind us. Thursday, Friday, Saturday evening, we have a Des Moines police officer on campus.”
On duty Des Moines police officers are allowed to carry firearms within campus. In addition, the local police perform drills and walk-throughs of the schools to familiarize themselves with the best exits and entrances of each building and the layout in the event of an emergency. This gives them a three to five minute reaction time to emergencies on campus.
Law also mentioned a long-term, 18-month planning process during J-term of 2019. They plan on performing an emergency response drill on campus. However, this would not specifically be in response to an active shooter. It would only test Drake’s response in an emergency situation.
“As far as gun violence specifically, at Drake we have a procedure with the introduction of our card access system, which we did four and a half years ago,” Law said. “We have the ability to lock the campus down at the push of a button.”
Law is working continuously with Marty Martin to improve and update the procedures and drills Drake has put in place in the event that gun violence or an active shooter were to occur on Drake’s campus.