Asking the Question, “Do You Allow Guns on Campus?”

It is hard to believe but in a few short years my first born, my “baby,” will be heading off to college. The browsing has begun and next year we will begin making visits. Truly shocking to this GenX’er dad – not only is the college decision looming before me, but like so many other things that are different than “when I was young,” because my daughter is smarter and more gifted that I was at her age, distilling down the possibilities will be difficult. But try as we might to avoid it, we have to deal with the reality . . . our daughter will soon be going to college and we will have to help. :-)

As we have conversations about the possibilities, we know that her interests and passions will be significant determiners, the shear cost of a college education will be a factor and the application process itself may require an advanced degree. Despite all of these things that make us want to run away and hide, we have begun making our list of questions and filters for schools: some serious, others not so much . . .

  • Which schools are the “best” ones for your interests . . . or for the interests that your parents hope you will be interested in?
  • What are your dreams and will this school help you get there?
  • Who gives good financial aid or has some version of a no-debt programs?
  • Who as the best food?
  • Seven Sisters? West Coast, East Coast or that middle part?
  • Small college or large university?
  • What schools are located in cities that the parental units are willing to visit?
  • What is their policy concerning guns and/or concealed weapons on campus?

Even as I write this post, that final question seems absurd to me.

Yes, I know that there is a contingent of folks who believe that any restriction of gun ownership is an attack on their liberty and constitutional rights, but guns on college campuses? When I was in college I could barely be trusted with choosing my major, let alone carry a firearm. So, despite the shocking amount of legislation that aims to ease gun restrictions on college campuses or forbid colleges from banning concealed weapons, I will simply choose to believe that most folks, even strong gun advocates, would not support policies that would allow students to carry guns on campus.

I also know that most of the schools that we may end up choosing probably will not allow students to carry firearms – as most states either ban guns on campus or allow schools to determine their gun policy [See map above] - but even some great schools are located in states that have or have had legislation that, if passed, would make it possible. You can see a complete list of legislation here. Of the 20+ pieces of legislation introduced in 2012 or carried over from 2011, thankfully most did not make it through this legislative cycle, but I have no doubt that advocates of guns on campus will be back again.

If you are interested in seeing some of the colleges and universities who have signed a pledge to keep guns off of their campuses, please see this list from www.keepgunsoffcampus.org and if your school has not signed, please encourage them to do so. And if you want to see one school that has begun to loosen their ban/restriction of concealed weapons on campus, here is Liberty University’s Gun Policy which includes a list of schools that they lift up as having similar policies.

I write this post not battle some straw man, to incite unnecessary panic or to pick a fight with anyone – yeah, good luck with that I know – but rather to highlight the need to be aware of what’s going on in the realm of guns on our nation’s college campuses. Other than a very brief and surreal interaction during a recent presidential debate, the absence of a national conversation on gun control or gun regulation has been deafening; and as a parent, a Christian and a citizen of the United States of America, the silence is not okay.

I do not want my child going to a college or university that has loose gun policies, so I’ll be paying close attention to legislative trends, especially over the next few years. If you feel the same way, I would encourage you to keep your ears open and stay connected to Keep Guns Off Campus by following them on Twitter or liking their Facebook Page. You can also keep up with the larger conversation via The Brady Campaign. And if you have other groups or schools who are fighting the move to loosen gun restrictions on campuses, please feel free to share.

Thanks for reading.

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It’s Hard Being the Youngest

Photo courtesy of www.artsed4all.org

As a wannabe psychologist and sociologist I am fascinated by the impact of birth order on systems: family and organizational. As I cooly and objectively step back and observe the myriad of sibling “laboratories” in my own life, none is more important and meaningful than that of my own brood of three daughters.

As the oldest of four siblings, complete with sub-birth orders, I know that the eldest child might get some special treatment solely because we happened to be birthed first. Honestly though, I suspect that there are pluses and minuses to being born at any stage or order: first, middle, youngest, only, etc. Each “has it the hardest” or “has it the easiest” depending on the day of the week and we parents are constantly caught in the middle, never getting it exactly right.

*sigh*

But . . . while there are always exceptions based on circumstance, personality, etc., I do think that, in many ways, the youngest has a particular challenge when following siblings through the early stages of life. Older siblings can suck all of the energy and air from a room, school or activity leaving youngests to search for slivers of unoccupied space from where they can claim their individuality and express their personhood.

With two very different, but very strong older sisters, our youngest is no different.

Today is one of those important sibling days, as our youngest (pictured during a recent school run-athon) will find out if she was elected to the student council. We have noticed that there are times when she will do things precisely because her older sisters have or have not done them in the past, so the very fact that she decided to run for office is pretty amazing. In fact, both of her older siblings were elected to office, prompting a playful and affectionate comparison to “The Kennedy’s” by a friend.

No pressure ;-)

As I dropped her off today, we talked through what she may want to do if she does not get elected, “Be sure to offer congratulations to the winner.” or if she is elected, “Be sure to say thank you to the other candidates.” I let her know that it was going to be harder for some kids than others if they are not elected, but that, no matter what happens, mom and dad think she did a great job.

I admit, some of my council was precisely to help her navigate these kinds of social experiences with grace and gratitude, but it was also to pre-emptively remove expectations that are based at all on the actions of her older sisters. Comparisons between siblings happen easily enough on their own, so there is no need to reinforce one identity based on the identity of another.

As parents we must always be aware that we are raising three wonderfully unique human beings each formed by many factors, one of which is birth order. And as we tell them all the time, we love them each differently, we strive to parent each one according to their particular needs, struggles, joys and passions.

So win, lose or tie and regardless of what her older sisters have done in the past, today is Youngest’s day . . . hers, all hers.

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