The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Letter to the Editor: 'M' is for Misuse

3 min read

The following letter was written in response to “Police Up Arsenal ” (Feb, 14, 2008, The Bullet):

Dear Editor:

Before beginning this letter, I would like to thank the Bullet for including an article on a necessary topic that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

After the April 16 events at Virginia Tech, it is only to be expected that colleges would seek to develop or revise their campus defense and emergency plans. I have nothing against this. In fact, it would be a terrible thing if campuses did not respond to the VT tragedy.

The matter I am concerned with is to what length they respond. According to the original Bullet article, “the look of the patrol rifle is more aggressive than a shotgun, but from a tactical law enforcement perspective, ‘it’s an advantage in this time in the United States.’”

First of all, if law enforcement has to create a ‘tactical’ reason for any of their motives, we should know that something’s up. The patrol rifle is “more aggressive” looking than a shotgun? Well, excuse my common sense, but DUH! Would you look at them? They look like, well, a military weapon!

However, since UMW is a college campus, and not an army base, why do we want them? Acting President Rick Hurley seems to know. According to the Bullet article, “Hurley echoed Snipes’ sentiment about the need to have an arsenal compatible to nearby police agencies.”

I hate to quote my parents, but, “just because everyone’s doing it, doesn’t mean it’s right.”

Considering Mary Washington’s policy on peer-pressure related items such as alcohol and other drugs, I would think that they would agree.

After some researching, I learned that the M4 is a weapon frequently used by the military because of the fact that it is easy to carry around and aim.

According to Wikipedia, the M4 “provides the individual soldier operating in close quarters the capability to engage targets at extended range with accurate, lethal fire.” Hmm. Extended range? Lethal fire? I believe this brings me to my argument.

My argument is not against guns in general, just these guns. If Mary Washington wants to prepare for incidents similar to the VT tragedy, then their real problem concerns a way to stop the assault. Guns may be necessary in such an instance, but M4s? Let’s get real.

If we have an emotionally unstable murderer on our hands, do you really think that having an M4 is going to make shooting him or her down any easier than with a regular shotgun?

As my roommate joked, “maybe we should install the semi-automatics on top of the belltower—then we can keep guard 24/7.”

In addition, if Mary Washington wants these guns to prevent such a tragedy, they are still not hitting at the root of the problem.

Solutions? Gun education, suicide prevention, and mental disability services.

If you thought the M4s were ridiculous, you should look at what they’re preparing for next. “The department plans to purchase frangible ammunition for added safety,” says the Bullet. “These expensive balistics are designed to pierce flesh, but shatter upon contact with denser materials.”

Well, I guess the police were planning on using marshmallows to stop attackers, because ordinarily one bullet will stop someone in their tracks.

Does anyone know what frangible ammunition does? It basically makes it impossible for all of the bullet to be removed, fragmenting the original piece into many parts that provide another degree of barbarism to being shot.

Instead of assuaging my fears, the end of the Bullet article added further insult to injury—pun intended.

I hate to end this letter on a negative note, but there’s nothing positive about this ammunition upgrade. It’s no wonder I had to read about it in the Bullet—our administration has a record of keeping “nasty sounding” information away from the public eye.

Just wait for the next  Bullet article—“How Your Tuition Money is Funding the New M4 Belltower Station.”

Laura Pilati is a sophomore.