Organization gunning to permit concealed weapons on campus

Heather Beyer

After 16 reported mass shootings in 2012 that resulted in over 88 casualties, the questions of enhancing security measures and reforming gun control are becoming hot-button topics.

Many firearm advocates believe that campus would be safer if students were permitted to carry concealed weapons.

Currently, the Ohio Revised Code prohibits concealed carrying on any premises owned or leased by any public or private college, university, or other institution of higher education, unless the handgun is in a locked motor vehicle or the licensee is in the immediate process of placing the handgun in a locked motor vehicle.

Kurt Muller, a University of Akron School of Law alumnus, firmly believes that permitting concealed weapons at the university would reduce crime and increase security.

“Concealed firearms should be allowed on campus for the same reason they are allowed everywhere else in Ohio,” Muller said. “Criminals do not respect arbitrary boundaries. Law-abiding citizens who carry everywhere else they go and are responsible everywhere else will be just as responsible on campus too.”

Muller serves as the director of strategy for the organization “Students for Concealed and Carry.”

According to concealedcampus.org, “The group was founded after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, and has already helped reform firearm regulations in six states, most recently by bringing suit in Colorado where a state Supreme Court victory brought the number of colleges allowing concealed carry to over 200. Six more states are considering similar changes.”

UA freshman Matthew Mansell serves as the campus leader for the organization “Zips for Concealed and Carry.”

“Zips for Concealed Carry” has two main functions, Mansell said. The first is to dispel the common myths and misconceptions about concealed carry on college campuses, by making the public aware of the facts. The second function is to push state legislators and school administrators to grant concealed handgun license holders the same rights on college campuses that those licensees currently enjoy in most other unsecured locations.

Mansell said, “‘Zips for Concealed Carry’ fully supports states’ rights. Its policy is to push for change at the state level, rather than at the federal level.

“The first step is to see the laws in many states amended to remove statutory prohibitions against concealed carry on college campuses. The next step is to see other states follow Utah’s lead in prohibiting state-funded colleges from refusing to honor state-issued licenses,” Mansell said.

University of Akron Chief of Police Paul Callahan said that he understands students’ concerns but he does not think allowing “blanket concealed carry everywhere is the answer.”

“I do not think it is conducive to a proper learning environment,” Callahan said. “It makes it difficult for first responders to know who is a suspect and who is the innocent student.”

That is not the only reason Callahan said guns on campus should not be permitted.

“We have special circumstances here on campus which affect the state law differently,” he said. “We have a high school and a day care which call for additional restrictions to
concealed carry.”

According to the Ohio law regarding concealed carried weapons, if licensed conceal and carry gun owners find themselves in a situation where they have to use their firearm and the police are called, gun owners need to inform officers that they do have a licensed handgun. They should also keep their hands in plain sight and not touch the handgun. Most importantly, they should comply with all officer commands.

“Police in Ohio already have to make this friend/foe determination everywhere else they might go since concealed carry is legal in Ohio,” Muller said. “The good guy will follow the police officer’s command to put down a firearm. In response to a threat, the only person guaranteed to be there is the ‘bad guy’ and the would-be victim.”

Muller said that the victim needs to have immediate options to respond to the immediate threat.

“Waiting five minutes for the police to show up will be too late,” Muller said.

UA Nursing student Angie Grace said she is concerned about allowing concealed weapons to be permitted on campus.

“I think it is not safe,” Grace said. “If I knew people were walking around campus with guns, I probably wouldn’t want to go here.”

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