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Dear higher education: You need to mellow out about guns

Let’s just cool it with the witch hunt

The chief financial officer of a Catholic university in Florida was forced to resign this week after it came to light that she also sits on the board of a firearms manufacturer. The university president had initially dismissed concerns about a conflict of interest arising from this arrangement, but in short order he changed his mind and gave the CFO an ultimatum: You can work with us or you can sit on that board. She chose the board, which is really quite understandable—one probably doesn’t feel all that welcome at a university after they’ve basically threatened to fire you over nothing.

We are in the midst of a markedly silly gun moment—we are expected, for instance, to listen seriously to the policy proposals and the constitutional analysis of fifteen-year-olds, and we are regularly treated to an illiterate stew of anti-gun activism about “high-assault magazine clippers” or whatever they’re calling them these days—but it is also a markedly dangerous one, as exemplified by the controversy at St. Thomas University. Sitting on the board of a gun manufacturer is not a crime; it’s morally dubious; it’s not much of anything, really. Guns are a part of our society; indeed they are a part of virtually every society on the planet. There are companies that manufacture guns; these companies have boards of directors. The notion that someone should be railroaded for sitting on the board of a legitimate company is a uniquely illiberal one, indicative of a kind of inquisitorial impulse. It’s gross. And we all know it.

This type of incoherence is rather par for the course for academia, which is overwhelmingly progressive and thus overwhelmingly against guns; we have seen, for instance, students carrying sex toys to protest firearms, and administrators cancelling pro-Second Amendment speeches for the most specious of reasons.

There is no need for this. Higher education, like the rest of society, needs to relax about guns. They’re not going anywhere, for one—we have a constitutional right to them, and there are more guns in this country than there are people. But more importantly, there is no need to fear firearms in general: They are simply tools, and when used properly they can save lives and prevent terrible tragedies. Ensuring that guns are not abused by dangerous individuals is a task to which we all must commit ourselves. But chasing a capable administrator off campus because she happens to be involved with a firearm company should not be on our list of priorities—not unless we want to drive an ever-sharper wedge between political factions in this country and move farther and farther away from constructive solutions to the problem of gun violence.

MORE: Campus anti-gun sentiment is not rooted in fact

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