Courtesy of MCT
Due to recent crimes and awareness on campus, some students are feeling the need to pursue a concealed carry license.
A concealed carry permit gives people the ability to legally carry a handgun or another weapon in a concealed manner, on their person, or near their proximity.
A new group, Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus, is advocating restoring the right to carry a concealed weapon on university property to individuals who already have a license.
The founder of the group Michael Newbern, a second-year in mechanical engineering, said the group is specifically looking to restore those rights to individuals with field hand guns. Those individuals who already have a concealed carry license are able to carry their weapons in public places such as restaurants, parks and shopping malls.
House Bill 45 and Senate Bill 17, were passed over the summer, which allowed those with concealed carry licenses to bring their weapons into establishments that serve alcohol. This includes restaurants, stadiums and bars. But still, concealed weapons are not allowed on campus.
Ohio State Police Chief Paul Denton told The Lantern in April that if people are armed in a dangerous situation, it makes it harder on police officers.
“Having other armed individuals will only complicate what’s already a confusing and difficult situation,” he said. “Our police officers will face the additional problem of identifying who is a friend and a foe, and that places themselves and others at a greater risk.”
Newbern said there should be no exception to the law on-and-off-campus.
“Generally those with permits are law-abiding citizens; it is ridiculous to keep law-abiding citizens from defending ourselves. We are sitting ducks right now; our goal is to not remain sitting ducks,” Newbern said.
Newbern said he got the idea to start the group on campus from the National Organization of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, though the OSU group is not officially affiliated with the organization.
“I took the ideals and mission from the national organization and applied them to OSU,” Newbern said.
When asked about how to address those who are wary of allowing firearms on campus, Newbern said he understands the concerns.
“Honestly, the concern is rooted in fear from Hollywood and their stereotypes of firearms,” Newbern said. “The Hollywood image is not what firearms are about. In order to acquire a conceal and carry permit, an individual must be 21 years old and submit a background check. The background check surveys for felonies, mental history and orders of protection. We’re law-abiding citizens, not criminals.”
Newbern said he wanted to make it very clear that the mission of the group is not to arm all students, but to restore the rights to those who already have a license.
“We want those who are eligible to be able to choose their own method of protection. You have to be 21 to even get a license, there will be no 19-year-olds walking around with guns on campus,” Newbern said.
Newbern said the group believes that Columbus Division of Police and University police are doing a fine job, but it is not enough.
“They are doing thankless work and we appreciate what they do, but it is not a strong enough deterrent in the university district,” Newbern said. “Criminals prey on us because they know we are defenseless.”
The group is currently reaching out to contacts in the state legislation and in the student government.
Nick Messenger, president of Undergraduate Student Government, said having students with weapons would complicate things.
“We’ve seen a lot of push toward carrying a gun,” Messenger said. “I can’t stress enough how poorly that could end.”
Messenger said there are other solutions to the recent string of crime.
“If you have a student carrying a gun — its self-defense, it’s the second amendment, I totally respect the right to do it — but we have to look at solutions that don’t just arm yourself to fight back,” Messenger said. “We have to find solutions that trend the crime toward zero.”
Jess Tyler, a third-year in special education, said she feels in-the-middle about allowing guns on campus.
“It’s scary with all of the robberies on campus, but at the same time its dangerous to have guns on campus too. I know the police have them, but I’m not sure everyone else should have one,” Tyler said.
Michael Miller, a third-year in art, said that he is against having guns on campus.
“I think that it is weird that someone would want to carry a gun on campus. Even with the rise of crimes and shootings I still feel safe on campus. I would feel more uneasy if students had guns,” Miller said.
Newbern said that those individuals with conceal and carry licenses have been responsible so far.
“We’ve been responsible, we’ve been doing the right thing. Our question is: Is OSU less responsible?” Newbern said.