N.C. State Organization Advocates For Concealed Carry On Campus

This story was written by Saja Hindi, Technician
A group of students is working to establish the N.C. State chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, part of a national organization.

The group advocates for concealed weapons to be legal for students, faculty and staff who have permits.

Ches McDowell, a freshman in political science, is one of the main organizers pushing for this change in policy, which he said he has been thinking about since the shootings at Northern Illinois.

"Because ... of the string of shootings and the Appalachian [State University] scare, it just seemed a real necessity," McDowell said.

McDowell said he doesn't think the University will go for it though.

"[Officials] can't make a connection that a sign that says 'no weapons allowed' is not going to stop people," he said. "If someone has a gun, nothing is going to stop them."

According to McDowell, during incidents like the Virginia Tech shootings, if one person other than the shooter had a gun and the shooter started to fire, students with the concealed weapon could have ended it before the shooter got too far.

"Gun laws are only respected by law-abiding citizens," McDowell said.

On the other hand, Derek Gatlin, a junior in sociology, said he is against creating such a policy.

"Although carrying the weapon may make an individual feel more safe, the end result of allowing concealed weapons on campus will mean more opportunities and more realized gun violence on campus," Gatlin said.

Stephen Roller, a junior in computer science, agreed.

"It's just as easy to become the shooter when you carry a weapon yourself," Roller said. "Crimes don't happen because people think them through. Having a gun can lead to a crime of passion."

But Andrew Tucker, a senior in political science who is involved in the national organization, said people don't realize the realities of carrying concealed weapons.

"Whenever someone plans on going into a high school and shooting everyone there or someone feels they need to commit a crime and they want to use a firearm, they don't say 'Oh gee, I'm not allowed to have a gun,'" he said.

Tucker said he did a project for his lobbying and advocacy class on campuses and states that allow concealed carry, which show decreased violence in those areas.

"The majority of people who own these permits recreationally shoot," he said. "They value their ability to defend themselves, but they've never found themselves in a situation of violent crime."

According to McDowell, he is contacting various groups to get funding for the group though they are not yet a registered student organization. Receiving funding, McDowell said, is tricky because the group is nonpartisan and unaffiliated with the National Rifle Association.

The group, McDowell said, is going to focus on passing out petitions to lobby the legislature to change the policy.

"We want to basically make ourselves known and educate students about the real truth about gun laws," McDowell said.

As a part of the national organization's effort, the NCSU chapter will be holding an empty holster protest April 21 to 25, according to McDowell.

Another issue that those against concealed carry bring up, according to Tucker, is accidental shots from concealed carry-on campus, which is a threat to the college population.

"But only two percent of firearm deaths are accidental," Tucker said.

Tucker said criminals are wise.

"The ones who aren't caught know what they're doing and know they can hit the college-age population ... it's not like robbing high school students," he said.

The criminals know these students aren't armed and they can easily take a wallet with credit cards and varios other identifications without the students being able to defend themselves.

A prime example, Tucker said, is the armed robberies that happened on campus last month during the daytime.

Another point, McDowell said, is the "magical line between Hillsborough Street and the other side of campus."

People walking on the non-campus side of Hillsborough Street can carry concealed weapons if they have permits, but on the campus side, it is not allowed.

Director of Campus Police, Tom Younce said the group would be allowed to organize, but the decision is ultimately up to the legislature, as the policy on concealed weapons on campus is a state law, not a University regulation.
© 2008 Technician via U-WIRE