Conceal Carry on Ohio Universities
By: Brody Beaver
In the United States, there have been a reported 23 school shootings, ranging from Kindergarten to the University level, since January through May 2018, reported by CNN. The shootings across America have led to the issue of implementing legislation, under Kansas State law, that will permit students and faculty members to carry firearms on campuses, mentioned by the National Conference of State Legislature.
Majority of Americans are opposed to arming educators, Pew research surveyed 3,930 adults, resulting in 55 percent oppose the proposition.
Ohio Governor John Kasich signed Senate Bill 199, effective March 21, 2017, reducing the restriction of firearms, modifying, “…the prohibition against carrying a concealed handgun onto institutions of higher education, day-care facilities, aircraft, certain government facilities, public areas of airport terminals, and school safety zones…” Ohio is currently one of 23 states to permit concealed carry on college campuses although the ultimate decision is determined by the universities.
Cedarville University, a private institution that has over 3,500 students enrolled is the first and only Ohio campus that allows faculty members to conceal carry, mentioned on the university’s website. The implementation of firearms became effective on August 1, 2017 but requires faculty members to have their concealed carry permit, with the addition of, “completing the application/orientation process and receiving written permission from the President.”
Advocating for the allowance, Students for Concealed Carry believe colleges fail at protecting students, considering resources such as campus police, security cameras, and alert text messages demonstrating awareness but not readiness. Their claim is, “colleges are open environments with invisible boundaries and little to no secure prevention measures.” Therefore, campuses should not deprive individuals on campus the ability to protect themselves.
Protection is the top reason why Americans carry a firearm, followed by hunting. Pew Research conducted a survey, resulting in “67% cite protection as a major reason”.
Contrastingly, Johns Hopkins University disclosed a case study in 2016 that argues concealed carry on campuses will increase the risk of incidents regarding serious assaults and suicides.
Stakeholders collected data, mentioning, “…85 incidents of shootings or undesirable discharges of firearms on college campuses in the U.S. from January 2013 through June 2016. Only two of these 85 incidents (2.4%) involved a shooter on a rampage.”
Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven interviewed with National Public Radio, mentioning his role as an educator and his corroboration with guns on campus. McRaven is concerned with the use of firearms in a high stress environment, believing, “self-inflicted gun wounds and accidental discharges” will be an issue.
With school shootings taking place, Gallup conducted a recent poll this month that resulted in Americans supporting stronger gun regulations, saying, “Sixty-one percent of Americans favor stricter laws on the sale of firearms.”
Other universities throughout the state do not permit students or faculty to conceal carry on campuses, but The Ohio State University trustees recently approved a new policy in June of this year that grants an exception. Board of Trustees Resolution No. 2018-138 allows off-duty police personnel, such as University Police, Columbus Police, Franklin County Sheriff, and the State Highway Patrol to conceal carry around the university, released by Ohio State’s department of Public Safety.
Concealed carry for students can negatively impact and compromise the safety of law enforcement officers, according to Wright State University campus police officer Sgt Jim Slusher.
“There are very important factors to consider when you make a policy about conceal carry in a campus setting” the former State Highway Patrol Officer said.
In a real-life active shooter situation, campus police officers rush to eliminate the threat and do not want any confusion. Slusher mentioned the possibility of mistaking a helpful citizen as the attacker.
“All you’re going to do is react, you’re going to see someone shooting and then you have to decide in a split second if they are the actual aggressor or not” Slusher explained.
Wright State University is similar to most of the 109 college campuses in Ohio, forbidding students, faculty and staff from conceal carrying on campus. Student Body President and Executive Director of the Ohio Student Government Association (OSGA), Daniel Palmer explained why, “Many trustees believe students would feel uncomfortable and unsafe, thinking firearms don’t belong on college campuses and should focus on education.”
OSGA Director of Legislative Affairs Ivan Mallett understands how firearms on campus make students feel but supports concealed carrying after certain prerequisites are passed. Mallett highlighted on the uptick of school shootings within the past few years and the most recent active shooter alert at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, which was luckily a false alarm.
“I understand that the policy on campus prevents guns but a piece of paper stowed away in University hall is not preventing someone from bringing a firearm on campus,” said Mallett.
For these reasons, Mallett believes if someone has a permit for their concealed carry weapon (CCW) or are military trained they should have the ability to carry.
Sgt. Slusher has taken student’s opinion into consideration but advises students to trust the campus law enforcement would react to an active shooter situation rather than rely on a vigilante student taking matters into their own hands.
“Those who made the decision have deliberated it toughly, and thoroughly. I think Wright State has made the right decision” said Slusher.
Gallup released data, revealing that 27 percent of Americans believe that arming faculty personnel would be an effective method to prevent school shootings.
Student, Spencer Masteller, expressed his concerns about firearms making him feel uncomfortable and does not trust other students.
“We can’t trust that anyone brings a gun on campus won’t get over emotional at some point and use that method to take out their anger on people,” said Masteller. For this reason, a gun in the same classroom would give him anxiety, distracting him from academics.
Students have brought all sides to the Student Government Association’s attention on several occasions.
Palmer addressed the concerns saying, “Students who both support and against conceal carry are wondering if Wright State will change their policy…but I don’t see it ever changing.”