The latest absolutely absurd policy directed towards the “evil” of firearms placed two Gonzaga University students in the position of facing possible suspension or expulsion from school this week. These students faced punishment after using a gun (never fired) to scare away an intruder in their off-campus, university owned apartment–an intruder who happened to be a six-time convicted felon.

To be very clear, I’m not advocating or fighting for the right for students to have a gun in college-owned residencies. That policy is the school’s decision.  I believe that if you create a rule and someone breaks the rule, you should uphold it by whatever consequences were deemed appropriate at its institution.  

That said, how can an idea so fundamental as the protection of one’s self and personal property be confined to a specific rule?  Sure, the students broke school code by having the gun in the first place, but when it comes to saving their own lives, and the lives of others, don’t we think we can make an exception?

So what if they’re not going to be expelled anymore and are just put on probation?  The fact that the university had to wait for a public outcry against their policy to consider looking at it is significant: their inability to waver on such an understandable issue indicates the rigidity of the ideology behind the rule.  This policy, while cloaked in the appearance of care for the general student population, also functions as a calculated political statement about gun rights.

While the idea that students generally don’t need guns in a school-owned residence isn’t inherently false, the purpose of the rule’s existence is made evident by the school’s immediate threat of expulsion before considering the circumstances surrounding the event.  If the school really cared about their students’ safety, why didn’t they support the protection of their lives rather than instantaneously damning their actions? Gonzaga should be thankful the students had a gun and were able to defend themselves. Two dead or injured students would have created far more problems for the school than simple hand-wringing over a broken weapons rule.

Is it not possible to put ideology aside in this case and let common sense prevail? Is it really that hard to see that even in the event of a student breaking a rule regarding the possession of a weapon, the important thing is that they’re safe? It’s not as though the students found the first opportunity to wave a gun around and did so: the student answering the door offered the man entering his residence food and a blanket rather than immediately chasing him out.

The initial unwillingness to provide an exception to the rule (especially because the school had not adequately secured the facility) proves that the noise of the liberal anti-gun static is drowning out the voice of reason. We’ve reached the point of no compromises: there are no more grey areas in social policies anymore, just pure partisanship and polarity. It seems that the pinnacle of division has been reached in our country, and fewer people are willing to entertain exceptions for fear of losing footing in the ridiculous stalemate Americans find themselves apart of regarding gun policy and the Second Amendment.

Things like gun rights and the protection of one’s self are topics too enormous to be dealt with in dichotomies; if we don’t provide reasonable exceptions to the rules, we’ll never get anywhere.  If we allow our ideologies to cloud our perceptions, more people get hurt than if the rule didn’t exist at all.  If we genuinely care about the safety of our fellow man, let’s give these students a break.  And for God’s sake, give them their guns back.

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Conner Dwinell | Hillsdale College | @ConnerDwinell