To the Editor: Across our country, people are once again saddened and disheartened by the carnage and killing created by a new outbreak of gun massacres on college campuses.
At the same time, the Florida Legislature is focusing on passing a law to allow the open-carry of guns on our public Florida college campuses. None of the incidents of injury and death seem to dissuade those who champion this dangerous bill.
We have said “not one more” and “enough is enough” too many times. It is time to recognize the facts. Guns kill! They do not save lives no matter what the NRA tries to make us believe.
Surely the potential risk of weapons of human destruction on our college campuses far outweighs the need of a few misinformed individuals who ignore logic, expert knowledge and plain common sense. They put forward this obscene legislation that would have 18-year-olds potentially open-carrying guns on our college campuses.
Whether we have kids in college or not, we owe it to this generation of college students to act on their behalf and stop laws that increase the odds that more massacres will occur. After every tragedy that has occurred, we hear that mental illness is the cause of this senseless violence.
Psychologists and college professors are not fortunetellers. They cannot, with any certainty, look at a high school transcript or an essay, and pre-determine which student will be the one sociopath with a need to become famous for taking the lives of his classmates. The best variable available to us is to remove the gun from the equation. Encouraging students to openly carry a gun on campus is promoting a situation fraught with the opportunity for disaster.
My daughter, Melissa, was a college student in 1995 when she lost her life to gun violence. In Melissa’s case, like most other cases of wanton gun violence, owning and carrying a gun would not have saved her life. After her murder, my husband and I, along with two highly respected psychologists, Drs. Susan Keeley and Donald Meichenbaum, started the Melissa Institute, (www.melissainstitute.org). The mission of the organization is to prevent violence through education and the application of research-based knowledge.
The proposed open-carry on campus law in Florida is sponsored in the House by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and in the Senate by his father, Sen. Don Gaetz, RNiceville. We need to create a groundswell of fierce opposition by contacting our representatives in both the Florida House and Senate to make our collective voices heard. Let this be a time when we each say “no more” and mean it. Let’s stop another tragedy before it starts. Raise your voice on behalf of our college students to make sure that this legislation does not pass.
President of The Melissa Institute