Christian schools in the United States used to be seen as safe spaces, where young minds learn their professions as well as God's Word with no threats facing their students whatsoever. However, this perception has changed, with some Christian universities opting to arm their campus security officers amid rising security concerns, prompting a debate about gun safety.
The Wheaton College in Chicago, Illinois is one of the Christian universities in the U.S. that are contemplating on allowing its campus guards to carry firearms. The university's spokesperson, LaTonya Taylor, said initial discussions have been started to this end.
Some students and school officials, however, are not comfortable with the idea of giving guns to campus security officers. Matthew Vega, assistant director of the Office of Christian Outreach, for instance, said that arming security officers will send a message that only violence can ensure safety in today's society.
"What sort of theological message are we sending to our students who've come to realise that our safety as a Christian community is predicated on intimidation and self-preservation?" Vega said, as quoted by The Washington Post.
He added that Wheaton College should break the trend of school campuses in the U.S. turning to guns to ensure their safety. According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, of all small, private colleges in America, 38 percent already hire civilian security officers who carry arms of different sorts—from guns and chemical sprays to batons.
It seems like more and more school campuses are finding it appropriate to have armed civilian security officers, ever since the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting which killed 32 people. Some of the Christian schools that now have armed security officers include Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Taylor University in Upland, Indiana.
The debate over guns in campus became even more prominent after Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. encouraged students last December to get concealed weapon permits.