There has been a vigorous debate on whether JH University should arm its ever-present and formidable (from a numbers point of view) security force. I have not paid much attention to the debate until recently. It always seemed like a business move to me. I apathetically opposed it but could see why the university would want to assure applicant’s parents that their children would be safe from the “mean” streets of Baltimore. In my view, more guns are not the answer, but I digress.
I was at a party the other week, and the topic came up. I was sitting with several Hopkins physicians, professors, and their spouses. The majority were for arming the security guards. I was swayed a bit by the fact that 9 out of 10 major universities, in urban settings, had armed guards, with almost no incidents that were newsworthy. It seems like an effective deterrent. Hopkins is one of the few major city schools without an armed force. This made me think that this was not going to be the “end of the world” if it happened. And people “in the trenches,” so to speak, were in favor of it. I guess personal safety is a prime motivator.
I headed back more towards my original position when I asked if the crime against students and employees was a huge problem? Someone related a horrific story about a professor being beaten and shoved into the trunk of his own car. I asked when. The answer was 1992 or 1994. Uhhhh, that was a quarter century ago. Relevant?
I thought some more. I think guns would put a lot of people out of business. I drive by Hopkins all the time. There are dozens and dozens of yellow and black clad security personnel. I don’t think you need half as many, if everyone has a gun… Right? Of course, I hope you will be paid more, as you will have to be much better trained to brandish a weapon, so this is a good thing? Sigh.
Then I started thinking that whatever happens we are not addressing root causes. Theft seems to be the major issue, and theft will not stop. It will just move. The surrounding neighborhoods will have to absorb higher levels of theft. Why don’t we address why people are stealing and solve those issues (probably poverty and addiction), and then have a safer city through and through? Nah, that would take a lot of work, money, and time. Am I safe? Good. That is enough. Right?