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Students want legislation to carry guns on college campuses
Some Ohio State University students holding signs and wearing empty holsters say they're concerned about safety

Jo Ingles

Students who want to be able to carry firearms on college campuses are, once again, taking their message to the streets. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports.

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Picture this….Some Ohio State University students standing on campus, wearing empty gun holsters, and carrying signs to make a point…..that they should be allowed to carry guns on campus.  Mike Newbern says that’s what happened earlier this week. He says students are concerned about their safety on and off campus.

"Since January, we’ve had 24 assaults and three rapes on campus. And when you look off campus, it’s enormous off campus."
Newbern says he and other students have been trying to get their message out.

"What we want to do is to try to change the law so that students who have gone and got a license, are 21, have taken the safety course, and have passed a background check can choose whether they want to arm themselves for their trip back home or to campus early in the morning.

OSU student Katherine Chang says she feels vulnerable.  he weighs 110 pounds and has a small frame. She thinks if people knew she and other students were allowed to carry a gun on campus, criminals would think twice about committing a crime.

"In a lot of instances, the presence of a firearm is enough to deter criminals from assaulting or attacking in the first place. And then of course being armed, I would hope I would never have to use it but in a situation when I would need it the most, it’s better to have it than to not have it."

Charles Smith, an OSU employee, says he sees value in the idea of allowing students who have met criteria for a concealed carry license to have a gun on campus.  But Toby Hoover with the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence disagrees. She says that would be accidents waiting to happen.

"They have a false sense of security that they are going to be able to save everybody if they are carrying their guns. But they are going to be in their backpacks, their dorm room, their lockers when they go to the gym. There you’ve got access to all types of people who shouldn’t be able to get hold of them."

Hoover notes that while Ohioans, in general, currently have the right to carry a concealed weapon in many public places, few Ohioans are taking advantage of that right. 

"You still only have 3% of the population or less that have their permit to carry. The majority of Ohioans and Americans don’t think you have to run around with a gun in their pocket."
And Hoover says when it comes to college students, she says the very environment in which they study and live makes the prospect of carrying guns more dangerous than ever.

"Everyone knows at the university you have got excess drinking, crowded living quarters, you’ve got love affairs gone bad….you are asking for tragedy."

But OSU employee Smith doesn’t buy that’s an unfair stereotype.
"The media likes to show you images of Palmerfest. They like to talk about Woodfest here at Ohio State.  And that’s the image that folks sitting at their home looking at their tv have about what college life is like. And unfortunately, there’s nothing out there to counter balance that pre-conceived notion."

But Smith says there is something important to note here. He says Colorado and Utah allow students to carry guns on college campuses and he says they haven’t seen an uptick in gun crimes. The idea of allowing students to carry guns on college campuses has been proposed at the Statehouse. There’s a bill that would allow it. But that bill, so far, has gone nowhere. But the students who like that idea say they are not going to stop pushing for it.

Listener Comments:

I am 46 years old, a student at KSU, and a concealed carry permit holder. The state of Ohio has approved my training, checked my background, and licensed me to carry a firearm for personal protection - on the west side of Lincoln Street. If I cross the street onto the Kent State campus, I am suddenly not trustworthy?

The majority of traditional college students would not be eligible for a permit, as you must be 21. However, older, presumably more mature students would, as would most faculty. These individuals generally are not living in crowded dorms or engaging in self-destructive behavior.

Opponents of Ohio's concealed carry law predicted rivers of blood and murder in the streets when the law was passed in 2003. Violent crimes in 2003: 38,185; murders: 526. In 2010, violent crimes had fallen to 36,366 and murders to 476. Not a huge decrease, to be sure; but certainly not the bloodbath that was predicted.

Contrary to Ms. Hoover's belief, most permit holders I know do not have a "false sense of security." They have a very real sense of security that comes from having a readily accessible defensive weapon, generally in an on-body holster, that they have practiced with and can fire blindfolded, one-handed, or laying on their back. That is a far cry from the security offered by most campuses, like Kent State, who, when we had an armed robber loose on campus last winter, advised us to call campus security for an escort - who would be armed with a flashlight.

There is a reason why so many mass shootings take place at so-called "gun-free" zones - the criminals know no one is going to be able to shoot back.

Posted by: Beth Wills (Stow, Ohio) on May 11, 2012 7:05AM
When getting my bachelor's at UC Davis I had both a campus gun permit and a CA concealed carry license. I carried on campus and had no issue with anyone not trying to cause problems. There were bad people who didn't recognize the border of campus or that of anti-social criminal behavior. There were also packs of feral dogs on the Campus Farm that were known to attack.
As a person authorized at times to have automatic weapons, USA, drive lethal weapons (automobile) I saw no problem with being armed on campus.

Posted by: David (New Mexico) on May 11, 2012 7:05AM
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