REVOLUCIÓN, TEXAS (Reuters) October 10, 2011
Ladyslipper Preparatory School for Girls located near the west Texas town of Revolución is better for its conservative, white-gloved coming out parties, historic Southwestern architecture, and nerdy girls who go on to the best colleges in the country, than it is as a place for stirring up controversy. But that is about to change as it becomes the first girls high school in the nation to require all students to pass a firearms course.
Across the country states are relaxing laws that restrict the carrying of concealed weapons on college campuses. Spurred by the killing of 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, a grass roots movement among students, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC), lobbyists for the National Rife Association (NRA), and other gun advocates have joined with conservative state legislators to pass legislation enabling anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun on a college campus or other public spaces, a practice that heretofore was prohibited in most states.
“We’re simply asking that law-abiding adults with the proper permits be allowed to exercise their constitutional right to arm themselves,” said Jerome Glock, a student at the Minnesota University. “Colleges and universities should be havens for the free expression of a wide range of ideas and ideologies. If you don’t want to carry a gun, I’m fine with that, but I expect people to accept my decision to pack if I want to.”
Others see nothing but threats in such talk. The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus represents a counter-movement to SCCC, and is doing their best to roll-back guns on campus legislation and thwart such legislation in other states.
It was against this background that Ladyslipper Prep finds itself the unwanted butt of much attention. Head of School Etta Place describes the school’s decision to include firearms training as consistent with their focus on preparing girls for the demands of college education. “Ladyslipper is not about being politically correct. Rather, we are in the business of enabling our students to succeed at college and in life. They will be in places where their classmates, perhaps even their roommates, are carrying weapons. It would be irresponsible for us to send them there without adequate preparation.”
“Besides,” she ads, “learning how to shoot a 357 magnum or an AK-47 assault rifle is very empowering for women, and at Ladyslipper, empowerment is one of our primary goals.”
Opinion in the nearby town of Revolución are largely supportive of the move. Ladsyslipper prep alumnae Kate Bender (class of ’96) wishes that she had been provided with such an opportunity as a student. “I think it’s just great. Guns are part of the American West. I grew up watching my brothers go hunting with my dad, go to skeet ranges, and even shoot the occasional rattler that might wander into the ranch. But I was not allowed to touch a gun. ‘Not ladylike’ according to my parents. So I would rally benefited from a program such as this.”
But other locals aren’t so sure. Physician, Henry Holliday was quoted in the Revolución News as saying “I see far too many gun-related accidents in our Emergency Room. We need fewer guns on the streets, not more. I don’t know what they’re thinking at that school. Besides, I thought they were all Buddhists.”
This fictional account was inspired by recent articles in Inside Higher Education and Time. But really, can something like this really be that preposterous? The NRA is already offering gun-safety courses in schools.1 If guns come to college, why can’t they come to high schools? God help us all.