Father Of Campus Shooting Victim: Arming College Students Is ‘A Solution From The 18th Century’

by KIRA LERNER –

richard martinez

Richard Martinez speaks at Moms Demand Action’s Nashville rally on Saturday/ CREDIT: KIRA LERNER

NASHVILLE, TN — Richard Martinez’s son Christopher was shot and killed in a campus shooting spree at the University of California Santa Barbara last May. The tragedy and Martinez’s call for “not one more” sparked a national conversation about strengthening gun control laws to prevent weapons from getting into the wrong hands.

But while gun control groups have pushed for what they call common sense reforms, the National Rifle Association is attempting to move legislation forward to allow students on college campuses to carry weapons. Martinez, who knows firsthand the consequences of campus violence, told ThinkProgress these proposals will only exacerbate campus violence and incidents of sexual assault.

“You ask the gun extremists what to do to reduce gun violence and they say more guns,” Martinez said. “More guns on the streets, campuses and playgrounds. That’s a solution from the 18th century, not the 21st century.”

Martinez and Lucia McBath, who also lost her son to gun violence, both spoke at Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America’s rally in Nashville on Saturday, organized in opposition to the NRA’s annual meeting. Martinez talked about his 20-year-old son, his only child, who was one of seven people killed in a mass shooting on his college campus in May 2014. “I am not anti-gun. I am anti-gun violence,” Martinez told the crowd.

According to the organization Everytown For Gun Safety, the larger group behind Moms Demand Action, NRA-backed lawmakers in 14 different states — Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Nevada, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming — have introduced legislation to allow students to carry guns on campus. Seven other states currently allow college students to have weapons on school grounds. The NRA and other gun enthusiasts have capitalized on the recent attention on campus sexual assaults to push their own agenda and have used the issue as a way to expand their female base.

While Martinez told ThinkProgress that he supports the Second Amendment, he knows that arming college students is not the answer.

“If you think back to our college days, the combination of alcohol, the pressures of academics, the drugs on campus… Kids at that age are not always the most responsible. The idea that more guns — I mean, what are they supposed to do with them when they’re in the dorms?”

One of the NRA-backed lawmakers to sponsor campus carry legislation is Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who has asserted that “young, hot little girls on campus” need to be armed to prevent themselves from being raped.

“If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them,” Fiore told the New York Times. “The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”

But university presidents, college students and domestic violence experts are all opposed to the idea of allowing concealed weapons on school grounds. Most campus sexual assaults do not occur between strangers and many occur under the influence of alcohol, so it is unclear how it would help to give women access to firearms.

“The idea that more guns on campus are going to make women safer — isn’t it just as likely that we’re going to experience more rapes at gunpoint?” Martinez told ThinkProgress. “Do we really want to create an environment in schools where we’re encouraging a firefight with weapons?”

 

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress