AMHERST, Ma. – In the wake of December’s mass-shooting at Newtown, Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, Amherst College President Carolyn “Biddy” Martin said Friday that it is “time to consider” a renewal of the college’s lapsed prohibition on assault weapons and incendiary devices. “In light of last month’s tragic and horrific killing,” said Martin, “I think it’s appropriate to consider reinstating the [weapons] ban,” which quietly expired under former president Anthony Marx in 2004.
Martin specifically proposed restricting firearms magazines to 20 rounds, prohibiting possession of rocket-propelled grenades, establishing a voluntary buy-back program for hollow-point bullets, and requiring students to register any AR-15s in their possession with campus police.
Martin also plans to ask the college shotgun team to discontinue skeet-shooting on the campus soccer fields, at least during soccer practice.
The preliminary proposals immediately produced backlash from campus gun enthusiasts, including the Amherst Rifle Association student club.
“These draconian, dictatorial gun grabs would quash student rights and wage war against innocent student gun owners who merely seek to defend themselves or engage in the proud American pastimes of hunting and fishing,” said ARA President Brian Hultgren ’14E.
Amherst College Chief of Police John Carter rejected those assertions, arguing that any policy change would not affect most pistols and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, as well as airsoft weapons and very large knives. ”I don’t see how [the ban] would significantly inhibit students’ ability to protect themselves or their families in their dorm rooms or elsewhere, and I just disagree that high-powered, military-grade firearms are vital for pest control,” as the ARA has claimed.
Carter also noted that the assault-weapons ban wouldn’t actually ban any assault weapons, and that “you could still do some damage” with a 20-round magazine.
Those assurances have failed to placate the ARA. ”The Martin Administration’s sorry excuses fail to address the core issue on every Amherst gun patriot’s mind,” said Hultgren. ”The God-given right to carry a so-called assault weapon isn’t merely to protect us from the individual bad guys on this campus; it’s to defend our liberty by keeping this administration in check. Because these guns are the only things keeping Amherst from academic tyranny, and the logic in that statement is a strong as the logic behind possessing assault weapons to stave off national dictatorship. And I don’t think anyone disputes the logic in that.”