News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Required for class: text books, notebooks, and an AK-47

Some good ol' boys in South Dakota are taking issue with the Board of Regents. Not because the Board has bumbled around so much with research and scholarship on its campuses that it wants to bust the state budget to catch up. No, the plaint is that the regents want to strip students of a basic American freedom by banning guns from the university campuses. But it is not only in South Dakota. A few nights ago, that all-night-radio show that caters to America's fruitcake faction, Coast-to-Coast AM., had a guy on who advocated that everyone should have the right to pack a rod, but especially college students because going to class is like riding around Baghdad in a Humvee

The state legislature is now considering HB 1261 which gives students the right to pack heat, as long as it is done in accordance with state law, whatever that means.

As a soldier, when I was not on maneuvers during which time our weapons were super-glued to our persons, our weapons had to be locked up in the armory, and they were not allowed in the barracks rooms. When on guard duty, we had to sign out our weapons and ammunition, which had to be checked in after each tour. (We were generally issued three rounds for guard duty.)

I have nothing against guns. There is a rack on my study wall in which are locked some shotguns and rifles and in the corner are two Springfield black powder muskets. In my family's history, guns have been tools--sort of on par with egg-beaters. I do admit that I seldom hunt anymore because there are so many Dick Cheneys out there who can't tell an old man's face or a road sign from a coot or a cock. But I have no problem with guns that aren't pointed at me.

However, in all my years as a student and professor, I have never considered the need or use for a gun on campus. I think all the campuses I was associated with prohibited guns and alcoholic beverages and pets, with the exception of goldfish, from the campuses. But that was because those things were so totally irrelevant to the reason people were on the campus to begin with. And if I were to provide a list for a prospective student of things that might be useful on campus, I would place a douche bag much higher on the list than a gun.

Yeah, I know that the rash of school shootings such as the one at Virginia Tech has caused the good old boys to opine that if people were packing heat in the classrooms, they would have taken out the shooter before he killed so many people. One can imagine all the unarmed students diving for cover while the lead flies over head and the self-appointed swat teams save lives, restore order, and make their intellectual contributions to higher education. One has as much chance to nullify such a shooter as the one at Virginia Tech by squirting him in the eye with a douche bag. One with a scope sight, of course.

With all the issues we have to face in education, it is reassuring to know that our legislators are so involved with improving the campus environments so that students can focus and concentrate onl their academic work. And with the state education officials concerned with things like regional higher education centers, research labs, laptops (computers, not dancers), and substance abuse, it will be good to have kids parading around with fire arms to elevate the intellectual dialogue and maintain the purpose of the higher education institutions.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States