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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


The tragedy of exploitation

Another shooting on a college campus will soon turn into another opportunity for political exploitation

Amy Bishop, a biology professor at the University of Alabama, was charged with murder after allegedly killing three professors and wounding three others. According to The Associated Press and the Huntsville Police, Bishop pulled out a handgun during a faculty meeting and opened fire on her colleagues. Bishop’s recent denial for tenure has been conjectured as the cause of her deadly outburst.

This tragedy is now another reference point that will be used in the debate about concealed firearms on college campuses, especially the UA. The last two weeks have produced much dialoguea about a recent resolution opposing SB 1011, which would allow teachers with gun permits to carry weapons on campus. Drafted by Associated Students of the University of Arizona Sen. Tyler Quillin, the resolution states “”firearms, in no way, belong in, near or around a classroom or any other university setting, unless in the possession of the University of Arizona Police Department, or other lawful entities.”” While the bill focused on allowing teachers to carry weapons, most of the debate has been focused on the right of students and greater UA community to carry weapons.

During a public forum, many students protested the resolution, claiming that they have the right to protect themselves on campus. The debate remains especially salient for the UA because of the university’s experience with a violent shooting.   

The case of Amy Bishop is eerily reminiscent of the 2002 shooting at UA’s School of Nursing. Robert Flores Jr., a student distraught about flunking out of school, shot and killed three professors before killing himself. Flores and Bishop were both individuals who set high goals for their educational and professional futures.

Neither Flores nor Bishop were suspected to be violent by those around them in day-to-day interactions. The shock of an extremely intelligent professor committing a heinous act only emphasizes the uncertainty of who may snap next.

New revelations have raised serious questions about the thoroughness of background checks performed on Amy Bishop. According to ABC News, Bishop shot and killed her brother in 1986, but the incident was declared an accident. In 1993, Bishop was a suspect in a mail bombing attempt against a Harvard Medical School professor. Had these situations been revealed, there is a strong likelihood that she never would have been employed in the first place.

This recent tragedy may help dismiss the imaginative partition between students and professors concerning concealed carry on campus. SB 1011 employs a double standard now shown to be dangerously false, but this fact only returns the debate to a wider audience, which means more heated rhetoric.

The main argument for allowing concealed weapons on college campuses is that shootings can happen any time, especially in a gun-free zone where everyone abiding by the law is vulnerable. While every shooting reminds us that we’re vulnerable in public spaces, the frequency of public shootings remains drastically exaggerated.

The similarities between the 2002 nursing school incident and the recent tragedy at University of Alabama show that any person, whether student or faculty, can break down mentally and perpetrate mindless acts of violence.

Without downplaying the severity of such tragedies, it seems almost unconscionable to exploit the public emotion and instill an environment of utter fear for political purposes. There is no disputing the unpredictability of public shootings, but there is no disputing the likelihood of such an event either.

To present these occurrences as inevitabilities instead of outliers is morally ambiguous at best but most likely morally reprehensible. Public spaces can never be made completely safe while allowing the freedom of movement necessary, especially at a public university. Allowing concealed firearms at the UA, with well over 30,000 students, is neither a remedy nor a failsafe. 

— Dan Sotelo is a political science senior.

He can be reached at

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