‘A clear teaching moment’ on gun violence

'A clear teaching moment' on gun violence

Editor’s note: Douglas Cremer is dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Woodbury University in Burbank, California. Little seems more polarizing and risky than an open discussion about guns and justice, and nothing is more terrifying to teachers and professors than the threat of an “active shooter” on campus. How then should the college curriculum address the fraught discussion of firearms in American life? Do the Parkland (Florida) high school students have something to say to college faculty who can often look at criminal justice issues in abstract terms of theory and practice? Put another way: Would an unvarnished examination of the reality of campus massacres and the extent of gun violence in America, alongside a thorough grounding in the U.S. Constitution and constitutional law, be the responsible approach to engaging students, especially as they start college? The subject matter is both ironic and poignant. Institutions of higher education have been grappling with the concept of “safe spaces” — intellectually, academically, emotionally — at the same time that campuses across the spectrum of American education, from pre-K to post-doc, are compelled to respond to violent threats to their safety. Active shooter drills are as common as the old nuclear war drills of a past era, only now the enemy is not some foreign power but our own neighbors. How do we study a phenomenon this visceral? The strong correlation between the number of guns owned in the United States and the number of gun deaths of all kinds […]

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