Home » Uncategorized » Pres. Herzberger: The Tragedy in Newtown

Pres. Herzberger: The Tragedy in Newtown

While traveling through airports recently, I kept seeing happy children about the age of those who were murdered in Newtown,  perhaps on their way with family members to holiday celebrations.  Children should be happy and, as President Obama said in his cogent speech last weekend, at the very least they should be safe.

To lend whatever weight we can to encourage a truly open, intelligent conversation on this important public policy issue, other college presidents and I have signed on to the letter below.

The letter was co-written by my colleagues Lawrence M. Schall, Oglethorpe University and Elizabeth Kiss, Agnes Scott College and (at the time of this writing) has been signed by 170 college and university presidents across the nation:

“On the same day our nation learned in horror that 20 first graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, young people around the country were learning if they had been accepted to their favored colleges and universities. For many years now, our nation’s leaders have engaged in fevered debates on higher education, yet lawmakers shy away from taking action on one issue that prevents thousands of young people from living lives of promise, let alone realizing their college dreams. That issue is gun safety.

Among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80% of all gun deaths occur in the United States and 87% of all children killed with guns are killed here (Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery).  In 2010, 2,694 young people were killed by gunfire. 1,773 were victims of homicide; 67 were elementary school-age children. If those children and teens were alive today, they would fill 108 classrooms of 25 each.

We are college and university presidents. We are parents. We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We urge both our President and Congress to take action on gun control now. As a group, we do not oppose gun ownership. But, in many of our states, legislation has been introduced or passed that would allow gun possession on college campuses. We oppose such laws. We fully understand that reasonable gun safety legislation will not prevent every future murder. Identification and treatment of the mental health issues that lie beneath so many of the mass murders to which we increasingly bear witness must also be addressed.

As educators and parents, we come together to ask our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of our children by enacting rational gun safety measures, including

  • Ensuring the safety of our communities by opposing legislation allowing guns on our campuses and in our classrooms
  • Ending the gun show loophole, which allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background check
  • Reinstating the ban on military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines
  • Requiring consumer safety standards for all guns, such as safety locks, access prevention laws, and regulations to identify, prevent and correct manufacturing defects

The time has long since passed for silence and inaction on the issue of reasonable and rational gun safety legislation. We hereby request that our nation’s policy leaders take thoughtful and urgent action to ensure that current and future generations may live and learn in a country free from the threat of gun violence.”

Click here to see a list of all presidents who have signed the letter: http://www.collegepresidentsforgunsafety.org


  1. nancy sievert says:

    I am so gratified by the action taken by the college presidents. However, missing are all the UC and CS presidents. Why is this? The insanity of gun availability has got to stop, along with our addiction as a society to violent films, videos, etc. Thank you for participating and for letting the alumni know. Nancy (Heldrich) Sievert ’56

    On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 3:15 PM, Whittier College President’s Blog wrote:

    > ** > Whittier College President posted: “While traveling through airports > recently, I kept seeing happy children about the age of those who were > murdered in Newtown, perhaps on their way with family members to holiday > celebrations. Children should be happy and, as President Obama said in > his”

    • Nancy: Thanks for writing. This was an effort by the presidents of the Annapolis Group, which comprises the top liberal arts colleges in the nation. But now the letter is spreading to major universities. Keep watching for more to sign on. The universities are truly problematic in some states because they are not allowed to ban weapons from their campuses if the law says people are allowed to carry them. Thanks for your interest in this topic.

  2. Doreen O'Connor-Gómez says:

    How would we know if a Whittier College student has a gun? Does the College have regulations? How does the College check up on this?

    • Doreen: We do not allow weapons to be carried on campus. The only exceptions are people required to carry them (Whittier PD). We do not allow our own security force to carry guns because statistics show accidental harm to innocent people is more likely than prevention of crime. Can we know that no one brings a weapon to our campus? No, just as we don’t know who is carrying a weapon through the streets of any locale.

  3. petrelwords says:

    Thanks so much, Sharon.

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