Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Empty Holster" demonstrations at American Colleges

John R. Lotte writes to note the "Empty Holster" passive demonstrations taking place this week (April 21 - 26, 2008) on College campuses around the nations.

Lott notes that "Gun Free Zones are Not Safe", a year and a week after the Virginia Tech massacre proved the point with the death of 32 people, and the wounding of many more ... mostly students.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, that PNW Bastion of Leftest Political Correctness, notes that "UW Students Want To Bring Guns To School". In an April 18, 2008 article, the PI writes:

Next week, students at the University of Washington will be making a fashion statement -- Gunsmoke style.

Students affiliated with the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus and the University of Washington College Republicans will wear empty holsters around campus for a week starting Monday, a symbol that they think concealed weapons should be allowed at the university.

"We have walked around the U-District with targets on our backs for far too long," College Republican Justin Bryant said in a statement Friday. "We need to allow students to defend themselves and make criminals think twice before they brutalize a UW student again."

The UW demonstration will parallel similar events at campuses across the country next week, an effort organized in response to a series of violent events at U.S. universities in the last several years.

"As students at the University of Washington our safety is constantly in question," Bryant said. "It is time something is done so students can spend time worrying about our education, not our safety."

John Lott is impressive, but as a venue to illustrate the ideological chasm between the people who think Gun Free Zones are a predator magnet and those who think that the chances of having a predator show up on campus is a much less credible danger than the proliferation of armed citizens on campus ... you can't find a better showplace for disagreement than the Comments section of the PI article.

Incidentally, the law in Washington includes an exception to Concealed Carry Licensees to the general state law which forbids the possession of firearms on college campuses. However, the University of Washington policy forbids firearms possession by anyone except Law Enforcement Officers on duty, etc. Essentially, if you're in uniform and on duty, and your job requires you to carry a weapon, the University won't stop you. Anyone else found in possession of a weapon will be asked to leave.

And, in the actual event, the chances are very good that a student with a firearm will be kicked out, scholarships rescinded, no credit for incomplete classes, not allowed to re-enroll, and further subject to any other administrative penalty which the university is empowered to impose. Good luck trying to enroll in any other college in Washington.

This is curiously similar to the situation at my 'home' college in Oregon ... where the "Empty Holster" passive protest is also being observed this week (link is to the OSU Student Newspaper: The Barometer).

Empty gun holsters will be seen on campus throughout this week as a sign of a silent protest against state laws and OSU policies that prohibit concealed handguns on campus.
It is unlawful to carry a concealed firearm in the state of Oregon without an appropriate permit, as stated in ORS 166.250. Students also cannot carry concealed weapons on campus, even if they are in possession of an appropriate permit. [Ed: emphasis added]

Brian Tsai, president of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, hopes that this week's silent protest will get the word out to the OSU community about their rights to carry a concealed weapon.
Tsai said that a college campus is no different from any other public place, where carrying a concealed weapon is permitted.
"All people who purchase a gun have to pass federal and state background checks in addition to safety training and mental health checks," Tsai said. "So the chance of a gun owner being irresponsible with their weapon is very low."
The silent protest will take place on more than 600 campuses nationwide with 6,000 students participating in the event.
OSU is among numerous college campuses throughout the state which have adopted an administrative rule, OAR 576-065-0010, prohibiting students from carrying concealed weapons.

There are no 'campus police' at OSU; the campus is patrolled by members of the Oregon State Police.

Here's "The Other Side" of the issue (also from the OSU Barometer article cited above):
"The bottom line is that this protest is not going to change anything," said Jack Rogers, director of public safety at OSU. "The Oregon administrative rule overrides any provision for concealed weapons, and it is very unlikely that the Oregon University System will yield to any change on this subject." [Ed: this is not consistent with the "Open Minds, Open Doors" motto of this university. See below.]
Tsai said that students who carry concealed weapons at OSU are not breaking any laws.
"All that the security personnel can do is ask the person to leave the campus," Tsai said.
Students who carry concealed weapons are looking to defend themselves in a certain situation, added Tsai. They are not vigilantes.
"The only idea here is to try to defend oneself, because response time for police in situations like Virginia Tech can be anywhere from three to five minutes," Tsai said.
Rogers, however, doesn't believe that an average gun owner would know how to use deadly force properly in an extreme situation.
"We in law enforcement have gone through an extreme amount of firearms training," Rogers said. "We're the ones who are the professionals." [Ed: link added]
He also said that students who carry concealed weapons may not be knowledgeable enough to determine when to use deadly force and when to restrain. Rogers believes that firearms in a college environment have to be controlled.
"The bottom line is that we have well-trained and well-prepared staff here who know what the training is all about," Rogers said.
"[The use of deadly force] doesn't come lightly; it takes a tremendous amount of training to use deadly force."
(Emphasis added)

Some who read the opinions of Jack Rogers may consider that the students who were killed at Virginia Tech probably learned the hard way when to use deadly force.

When a gunman is killing your classmates, that is probably a very good time to use deadly force.

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