Should students be allowed to have concealed carry weapons on campus?
By Katelyn OsterPosted Nov 16, 2011
For the thousands of Buckeyes on OSU campus at all times, the threat of crime may be the last thing on their minds. Finals week, Thanksgiving break and scheduling classes approach in the distance as fall quarter rapidly draws to an end.
But should it be the last thing on their minds? OSU student and engineering major Mike Newbern doesn’t think so.
“There have been four incidents in the last two weeks within three blocks of campus,” he said. “The important thing to understand is that bad guys are not going to stop getting guns, which is why it’s important for us to restore the rights of staff, students and faculty so that they can protect themselves while on campus.”
He is talking about restoring conceal carry rights to those on campus, an idea being talked about more frequently in light of the recent crimes.
Currently, a select few campuses allow CHL holders to carry concealed weapons on school grounds, including Colorado State University, Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia and all public colleges and universities in the state of Utah.
In the past few weeks there have been several threats to student safety, the most recent being a brutal assault on a student early Sunday morning. The student, Aaron Peacock, was robbed and beaten by two men, who left him with multiple fractures in his orbitals, a lacerated spleen and a broken nose, and badly bruised eyes.
He also had to have bone fragments removed from his swollen cheeks.
Aside from this most recent cast, OSU has issued three other crime alerts since an incident that took place on Oct, 30. The first incident in the recent string was an armed robbery that took place at W. 10th Avenue and Worthington Street, in which the attackers held a gun to the victim while taking his property.
A similar incident occurred on Nov. 3 in which four suspects robbed a student, one holding a gun to his head then telling him to run away after stealing his property.
The third incident happened two days later to a female student between Waldec and Tuller when two suspects demanded her to hand over her money. When she started screaming, they ran away.
A recent glance at CrimeReports.com shows that 71 violent crimes occurred on campus in the 30-day period ending Nov. 6. These crimes include robberies, assaults and homicides, all taking place within the area surrounding East Campus from High to 4th and 5th to East/West Oakland.
The inception of the group “Buckeyes for Conceal Carry” was fairly recent, although Newbern, the group’s founder, has wanted to start something like this for years. “Buckeyes for Conceal Carry” held their first meeting Monday, Nov. 7 in the Ohio Union to discuss their future plans.
Not yet a recognized organization by the university, the group plans to apply to be a student group as soon as possible. According to the group’s Facebook page, their primary goal is to dispel the common myths and misconceptions about concealed carry laws on college campuses through accessible education.
“The image most people have of firearms is that which Hollywood presents; that is not a healthy image. Gun control does nothing but make it harder for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves,” said Newbern.
The group’s second goal, as per their website, is to push state legislators and school administrators to grant concealed handgun license holders the same rights on college campuses that those licensees have in most other unsecured locations.
OSU Chief of Police Paul Denton, however, said he’s not sure allowing students to have concealed weapons will necessarily make campus safer.
“The majority of these crimes occur in areas where it is perfectly legal to carry a concealed weapon,” he said. “I respect and uphold the constitutional rights of citizens protected by the Second Amendment; it is a complicated issue, but changing the law alone to allow conceal carry on campus will not solve the crime issues at hand. “
Even if legislation was passed, there are certain facilities where conceal carry would be still be prohibited. The University Workplace and Family Relationship Violence Policy 7.05 states that all faculty, staff and student employees are not permitted to carry deadly weapons on university grounds. The student code of conduct also would restrict the legislation, as well as the contractual agreement in student housing that states there will be no firearms permitted on the grounds.
“I disagree with the thought that carrying guns on campus would make it a safer place,” Denton said. “The best way to make campus safer is by training law enforcement.”
Many students, though, attended the first meeting, eager to contribute to the cause of loosening up the strict OSU policies for firearms on campus.
“Philosophically, I agree with being able to carry on campus if you have a concealed handgun license; I agreed with it even before I owned my own gun,” said OSU senior Christian Malone, a student majoring in political science. “This is an issue I’ve advocated for many years now.”
Other students disagree that this freedom would be an appropriate way to handle the crime situation many are faced with.
“I think allowing guns on campus would go against the core ideology behind getting a higher education,” said fourth year business finance major Emily Lanzillotta. “Academics are supposed to be a safe haven for those who want to solve problems with their minds. Inviting weapons into this area would only create tension and unrest, going against the purpose of being here at Ohio State.”
For some, it’s a more of a matter of trust. Can you trust those on campus who would have the new freedom to carry concealed weapons if the current restrictions were not in place?
“I think it’s a horrible idea,” said second year Chemistry major Joshua Ganzberg. I don’t trust college students enough to drive responsibly, let alone carry a concealed weapon.”
OSU physics third year Andy Conley said concealed carry restrictions create ‘danger zones.’
“If rules for concealed carrying are inconsistent, people are not safe in these areas and are even targeted there,” he said.
For students interested in learning more, the group is considering hosting range trips, concealed carry classes and general safety classes in the future. It’s easy to learn more by simply visiting their group page on Facebook. For the time being, the group’s primary focus is education of students, staff and faculty.
“I think it’s better to educate and enable than to inhibit. After all, what’s scarier than the unknown?” said second year OSU actuarial science major Amy Wiley.
To learn more about conceal carry laws on campuses around the nation, visit www.concealcampus.com or attend a Buckeyes for Conceal Carry meeting on campus starting next quarter.