Concealed carry offers student an opportunity to protect themselves

Nate Proell

A 2015 CNN poll asked if people carrying guns in public places make those places safer. 35 percent of responders believed allowing gun owners to carry their weapons would result in higer levels of safety. More than 200 college campuses in the United States allow students to carry concealed weapons around campus, and many are trying to make that number even greater. In fact, some Wisconsin lawmakers believe that students in the University of Wisconsin System who receive a concealed carry permit should be allowed to carry on campus. Those lawmakers are trying to make that a reality. Senate Bill 363, which was introduced by Rep. Jesse Kremer and Sen. Devin LeMahieu, would allow UW students who receive concealed carry permits to carry anywhere on campus. Currently the bill is sitting in committee. However, the bill is expected to come back into discussion and perhaps be put into law. “Our club is very supportive of this,” Shannon Olson President of the UW Oshkosh College Republicans said. “You have to be 21 to get a concealed carry license so anyone off campus can already have that. You can carry most other places provided that they don’t have a rule against it. We don’t see a major issue with allowing students to carry them on campus.” Those like Sen. LeMahieu do not believe that having college campuses as concealed carry areas would make much of a difference, since typically only upperclassmen and staff are 21 or older. There would not be an overflow of guns. “I feel it’s important to give law-abiding citizens the opportunity to protect themselves,” Sen. LeMahieu said. “A 21-year-old is allowed to carry in every other area of their lives, what is the difference on a college campus where there is a huge soft target?” Allowing students to concealed carry on campus would eliminate the notion that college campuses are soft target, where the majority of students are not carrying a weapon around illegally and are basically sitting ducks for attackers. “This bill would eliminate people on campus as easy targets,” Rep. Kremer said. “The bad guys wouldn’t know who is armed and who isn’t.” Those like Rep. Kremer believe that there are already students on college campuses who are illegally carrying around a weapon from class to class. Allowing students to legally carry concealed weapons around campus would at least ensure that some students, with good intentions in regards to safety, would be able to protect themselves and possibly others in the event of an attack of some sort. “I’m hearing arguments from people saying, ‘I don’t want someone sitting next to me with a gun,’” Rep. Kremer said. “That could be happening right now. You don’t know who could be sitting next to you with a gun and it’s probably not someone who is legally carrying.” One major argument he has heard from people who oppose concealed carry on UW campuses is that college students drink and party too much and if they are carrying a concealed weapon while they are intoxicated they could begin using that weapon without a justifiable reason. In a response to those critics Sen. LeMahieu said he believes that those who take the legal steps toward getting a concealed carry permit know the responsibility that comes with it and would not do something like drink and carry and put other peoples lives in danger. “A 21-year-old who is going through the training is going to be a fairly serious person… it’s a great responsibility to do that and a vast majority of people who do that take it very seriously,” Sen. LeMahieu said. Those like Olson believe that there is simply not enough security on campus to ensure that every building is secure 100 percent of the time and allowing students to concealed carry would allow them to put their safety into their own hands. “The Arts and Communications Center is not anywhere near the police station,” Olson said. “There is not really someone who can come in a reasonable amount of time to combat the situation before it is too late.” Rep. Kremer said many opposing the bill believe this could lead to mass shootouts if permit holders were to combat a shooter; however, Rep. Kremer stated the number one priority of a concealed carry holder is to protect themselves and possibly those near them if it is safe to do so. It is not the job of the permit holder to chase after the criminal. “There are two reasons I wanted to bring this bill up: one is for prevention, the other is for personal protection,” Rep. Kremer said. People with bad intentions can get a gun with no problem and they know that college campuses are soft spots where they can easily attack. Allowing permit -holding students to legally carry a concealed weapon around campus would at least ensure there would be some armed students with good intentions to protect themselves, and possibly others, in the event of an attack.