Police in Santa Clara responded to what they believed was a potential school shooting incident on Monday after they received a call about a gun sighting in Mission College. Law enforcement officers arrived at the community college and shut down campus for 45 minutes. The lockdown ended when officers finally located the suspect – along with his cardboard cut-out firearm.
It was all just a simple misunderstanding, claimed school spokesman Peter Anning. Students in a sociology class were attempting to perform a criminology experiment. One student may have gone a bit overboard, dressing up in a ski mask and creating a cardboard cut-out of a firearm.
Even though students and teachers knew to expect a criminology exercise, one of the students panicked after spotting the cardboard gun and phoned police.
Luckily, the incident was diffused without any major complications. Nobody was injured and there is currently no indication that the police plan to press charges against the student.
The incident draws attention to the intense gun debate surrounding college campuses. Legislators from Texas and other gun-friendly states have attempted to allow students to carry guns on campus, despite frequent and strong protestations from school officials. Gun rights advocates argue that students should be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights, but officials from left-leaning universities argue that guns have no place in schools.
While it is certainly a relief that nobody was injured at Mission College, the 45 minute lockdown shows just how long it takes for the police to catch an allegedly armed suspect – and this student wasn’t even armed or trying to hide. If the student had actually had sinister motives, would the police have been able to capture him in under an hour?
Gun rights advocates might be able to point to this as another reason why students should be able to carry guns on campus, because it would empower students to defend themselves and dispel public fear about guns. But on closer examination, this incident could just as easily be an argument against guns on campus. Expecting civilians to be able to differentiate between real and fake guns can lead to complicated – and possibly dangerous – misunderstandings.
What do you think: did students and police officers overreact to something that should have been legal anyway, or was it perfectly reasonable for students to panic at the sight of a gun on campus?
Source: CBS Local