University community members weigh in on recent gun carry laws
Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 04:10
As federal courts prepare to examine the legality of guns in churches, the debate surrounding the possession of firearms in public settings, including college campuses, has been reexamined by some Americans.
Shootings at Delaware State University and Virginia Tech University in 2007 have spurred questions about allowing guns on college campuses.
Kurt Mueller, a regional director of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, said the only way to stop armed criminals is to allow responsible citizens to be armed as well.
Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a national organization advocating for concealed carry laws for college campuses, was founded shortly after the Virginia Tech shooting. Mueller said restricting the number of locations permit holders can carry their weapon presents dangerous circumstances.
"You're creating a situation where the only people that are going to have weapons on campus are criminals," Mueller said.
This summer, Wisconsin and Mississippi legislatures adopted policies allowing those with concealed weapon permits to carry guns onto public college campuses. On Oct. 3, Oregon overturned rules within its state university system that prohibited guns on campus.
While the state of Delaware has not passed legislation regarding weapons on college campuses, university police Chief Patrick Ogden said the school prohibits all students and faculty from carrying weapons on campus.
Ogden said he believes a greater number of people possessing guns on campus would increase the risk for students, since weapons can be stolen and make their way into the hands of criminals.
"The more guns you have, the greater the likelihood of accidental or even purposeful injuries," Ogden said.
He understands the argument for firearm possession as a means of self-defense, but believes students shouldn't feel the need to interject themselves into a conflict and risk their own safety or the safety of others.
"There might be very well-intentioned students who would never dream of hurting anyone, but they still put themselves at such a greater risk," Ogden said.
Constitutional law professor Wayne Batchis said the only Supreme Court precedent self-defense acknowledges the right to possess a weapon in the home, while school environments are considered more sensitive and require more scrutiny.
Batchis believes the Second Amendment should not be taken as a sweeping right to possess a gun in every situation.
"No constitutional principle, as important as it may be, is absolute," Batchis said.
Senior Garrett Jenkins, president of the College Republicans, said guns can make people less vulnerable to assault. He supports the mission of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus and believes carrying a firearm could help students protect themselves from criminals.
"You're pretty much like a sitting duck when you're following the laws," Jenkins said. "Criminals don't do that. They don't follow the laws."
Junior Michelle Dickerson said she would not feel safe with a policy allowing guns on campus. She believes some students could have legitimate reasons for carrying weapons, but thinks the risks of accidental injury outweigh any potential benefits.
"If they're not trained, they could end up really hurting bystanders," Dickerson said.
Freshman Courtney Taylor said she thinks worrying about safety on campus should not lead to dramatic protective measures.
"It shouldn't result in feeling a need to carry a gun or a knife on campus," Taylor said.