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Campuses: Armed fortresses?

Posted Tuesday, October 9, 2007, at 9:11 AM

How far should college students be allowed to defend themselves against the bad guys?

MTSU's student government voted 23-4 last week against allowing those with gun permits to go armed on campus. This followed an attack on a young woman in her dorm room.

Meanwhile, a few hundred miles away at the University of Memphis, a student was killed by gunfire. No one there spoke out in favor of arming students.

Should students at universities be allowed to carry such a deadly form of self-protection? On the other hand, should guns on a campus populated by adults, not children, be banned?

And what about those few who would misuse weapons and go on shooting sprees?

I wonder how many MTSU students, most of whom live off campus, actually have guns in their apartments.

It must be tough to be a college student these days, never knowing if one of the campus misfits will go on a shooting spree.

I can see arming oneself in self-defense, but a campus shouldn't be a place where fear should reign or where everyone should go armed. Unfortunately, danger invades too often these days.

Decent students should be allowed to protect themselves. But to what extent?


Comments
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This is a tough question, one that I'm going to take in a different direction. Back when I attended MTSU, [early 80's] we had a horrible incident where a campus cop [also the dorm nark] went nuts, drove to the UT campus in Knoxville, murdered his estranged girlfriend and then killed himself.

Everyone in the dorm knew the guy kept a gun in his room, which he wasn't suppose to do and most of the university's public relations efforts were centered around covering up the fact he worked with the school "policing" the rest of us.

The school told the public that he was a former campus cop instead of a current one, which we knew was a lie since he busted someone down the hall two weeks before for smoking pot. The roommate of the campus cop told me himself that he kept a gun in the dorm.

Yet, all of this was swept under the rug for the image of the school.

Times were different then. If the university tried to lie to the public like this today, students and bloggers would be on the net within minutes with enough evidence to blow the lie out of the water.

The question I have is, who do you trust to "police" or protect you? Witness what happened in Wisconsin this weekend. When reports first hit the web this weekend, very few detail were released and it took hours to learn that a cop had done it. Not only that, the first wire reports kept stressing that the shooter was "an off-duty cop."

Like the guy being on the clock is going to make any difference to the victims and their families.

Another problem I had with news coverage of the incident was the time it took to identify what kind of weapon was used. All we heard at first was that he used "a police rifle." It wasn't until this morning that we learned it was an AR-15.

You know, an "assault rifle."

Had this slaughter been committed by a civilian, the Brady campaign and the other gun grabbers would be having a PR field day. But we haven't heard a peep from them on this one. I wonder why?

But back to the topic at hand. Should you be allowed to protect yourself on campus? Do you rely on your own judgment to protect yourself or trust a total stranger to do it for you? And can you trust that person to be there to protect you when the time comes. Given my experiences with cops during that time period, both campus and real ones, I'd have to say I would depend on protecting myself, because many of them were a danger to themselves and everyone around them. During that time period.

But times have changed. Like I said, this is a tough question.

-- Posted by Brian Mosely on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 9:41 AM

Yes, but if you allow everyone to start carrying a weapon on campus then you really open up a Pandora's box of problems. I might trust myself with a weapon but do I trust the judgment of everyone else on campus . . NO! In a age where video games makes killing people look simple and easy and less serious, do we really want people who are at a young age to have that kind of responsibility and judgment. There are many who would do it wisely but others who may not. What happens if someone is scared walking at night and shoots at something moving and it winds up being another student who just scared them by accident? I would rather they increase campus security with trained individuals than to let the average Joe or Nancy decided when a situation merits force.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 10:07 AM

"do we really want people who are at a young age to have that kind of responsibility and judgment."

You may want to ask the folks running law enforcement in Wisconsin that very question. People up there are already asking it.

I have to agree that those wanting to be officers must be heavily, HEAVILY screened. I know of incidents in my home county and others I have covered [not talking about Bedford County here] where totally unqualified family members of cops were given a gun and a badge, with no training whatsoever and sent out to "police" the rest of us. One of these fine young men took it upon himself to go after those who gave him a hard time in high school. He got away with it, too.

Another incident happened just a few years ago when I was with another paper elsewhere in the area. A couple of auxiliary sheriff deputies, [the young guys you see at football games as extra security, not real cops] pulled over a honor student and began acting like the worst example of law enforcement you can imagine, accusing the kid of dealing drugs, threatening him, ripping his car apart looking for stuff, you name it. A real cop showed up and put a stop to this, telling the auxiliary fellows that had no legal right to pull anyone over, much less carry firearms and enforce the law. "You guys just direct traffic during the parade," the faux cops were told.

Well, guess what happened. We reported the incident and what the sheriff intended to do about it and it wasn't a day later that one of these children shows up at our offices with a loaded sidearm. He was demanding a retraction, he wasn't even involved with the incident, but it was some of his buddies and it wasn't "right" that we printed it. We told him what the sheriff relayed to us about their "police powers" but since he was young and packing, he would hear none of it.

Needless to say, I was not pleased with some little boy with a loaded weapon acting like he was a cop and complaining about what was in the paper. Later that night, the real cops showed up at his home to take his little temporary play badge and his sidearm.

There are a whole lot of pros out there who do a great job protecting us and my hat is off to them. But there are always just one or two that can smear an entire department. I have a real hard time with people telling me I can't defend myself when I've seen what happens when the wrong people are put in the position of doing so. Also, the police can not be everywhere when you need them most. Unless they are driving by right when a crime happens or are able to "beam in" like on Star Trek, you are pretty much on your own. Three minutes, [the average response time for cops] can seem like an eternity when you are in danger and need help. I would like to have the option to be able to take care of myself, if need be.

-- Posted by Brian Mosely on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 11:15 AM

Mosely you dont have what it takes to protect yourself. Your posts are always full of criticism towards law enforcement. You bring up two references to some bad apples and try to relate them to all other hardworking honest cops. What did it matter that the police officials in Wisconsin didn't release the information about what kind of rifle was used. Does the media really need to know that? Did it actually matter that it was an AR-15. Would not a 9mm or a Remington shotgun not have the same effect. Did it ever occur to you that sometimes that information is not released until it is confirmed what was used. Mosely since you have so little faith in law enforcement protecting you. Just dont call them when you are victimized. Its that simple. Depend on yourself and the weapons you have in your pocket protector.

-- Posted by Justunjust on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 11:40 AM

Agree with jaxspike... Staring to allow everyone to carry a gun, will cause mass chaos and a higher likelihood of violence... Because then "protection" will come at a cost of innocent lives being lost...on a grander scale than is currently taking place.

-- Posted by nascarfanatic on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 12:06 PM

"Your posts are always full of criticism towards law enforcement."

Always? Oh, come ON... I have the utmost respect for police. I have also seen what happens to these fine men and women when one or two bad apples ruins it for everyone that serves. Which is what I'm talking about here.

"What did it matter that the police officials in Wisconsin didn't release the information about what kind of rifle was used. Does the media really need to know that? "

Yes, we do need to know that. If it is important for every other case, why not this one?

"Depend on yourself and the weapons you have in your pocket protector."

Ho. Ho. He don't know me vewwy well, do he?

You totally missed my point. SCREEN THEM! Make sure no unstable kids are given a badge and a gun. Some folks can take the stress of the job and some can't.

-- Posted by Brian Mosely on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 12:52 PM

I agree there needs to be a strict screening process for hiring those who protect us. I also think there should be a strict hiring process for those in the media who print and publish things they have little or no information about. Or those who continually print material that is not exactly true just to sell papers or put their own twist on things by writing articles that play with ones emotions after a tragedy. Kind of like you making a big deal out of the officials not releasing the information about the AR-15 that was used.

Explain to me again why it was important for the media to know that it was an AR-15. Perhaps the law enforcement officials were waiting on evidence that it was an AR-15. When these officials don't release the results of their preliminary investigations, it is done for a reason. Can you imagine what would happen to a court case if an officer told the media that the victims were shot with a handgun when in fact after all the evidence was thoroughly examined it was determined that a rifle was used? This is just one example of why I would assume that law enforcement doesn't release that information prematurely. Now. That is how I justify my point. Tell me how you justify your point. Once again did it matter what kind of weapon was used? Would it have made a difference if they were shot with a shotgun, handgun, or rifle? I don't think so. Was the public in any more danger because he used an AR-15 rather than any other make of weapon?

I have a friend who was killed by a drunk driver driving a Ford and by golly I think they should outlaw all Ford vehicles now. Don't you think that would be a good idea?

-- Posted by Justunjust on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 1:34 PM

Let's not steer this away from WHY I was questioning the release of this information. In nearly every mass shooting case in recent memory, the question is always asked by those who want to restrict gun rights [the Brady campaign, etc] "what kind of gun did he use."

I assure you, had this horrible act been committed by a normal joe, the cry would be overwhelming to ban all those horrible weapons.

We have been told repeatedly that assault weapons should only be used by the military or law enforcement. But now when an officer goes nuts using one of them, not a peep.

That's because those pushing the point of view that guns are evil cannot make the firearm the villain this time, because the pathetic loser who murdered those poor kids was a full-time law enforcement officer who apparently used his service weapon in the crime.

It's a sad but true fact that police are just as humans as the rest of us. This is the point I am trying to make. I was also questioning the first reports on the story, which kept harping on the fact that the cop was off duty, as if it mattered. Twisting this logic around to apply to reporters is just....well, I'll let that one go.

-- Posted by Brian Mosely on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 2:50 PM

I personally would like to have extremely tough screening processes for those who are to "protect and serve" us.

and to me, it doesn't matter that he was off duty, he was still a police officer, on or off duty makes no difference. He is supposed to protect people, not kill them out of some stupid jealous rage. I also like to know that gun that was used, just so I can once again say NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND NEEDS AN ASSAULT RIFLE..PERIOD.

and on the college campus gun thing. I have an 18 year old sister in college and the thought of her having a gun scares me, she is so jittery about living alone that she would shoot without finding out who is there. and second of all, what if she was coming in late and her roommate didn't recognize her and thought she was an intruder and then shot her. There are lots of sides to this story, but I don't think giving a campus full of kids loaded weapons is an answer to college violence. It will just create more.

and there are big difference in assault rifles and handguns, assault rifles release more bullets faster, thus killing more people at once. NO Gun is safe when put into the hands of what seems to have been a mentally insane nut job.

-- Posted by Vindicated on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 6:10 PM

and Mr. Mosely, I think your comments are right on target (pardon the pun). Because all this devestation was created by a "law enforcement agent" there is no outcry, but if it had been an average american citizen, the outcry would be loud and gun laws would be debated to no end. It just doesn't make sense to me.

and I have read all of Mr. Mosely's post and I don't see where Justunjust thinks that you have a negative view on law enforcement. Like it or not, when they choose that profession, they are held to higher standards and sadly most fall short. It's a fact, not an opinion.

-- Posted by Vindicated on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 6:14 PM

Vindicated... I agree 110%

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 6:24 PM

And I agree also

And also agree with Vindicated about guns on campus. It will create more trouble and more violence. If they start considering it safe for college students then will it come down to High School students also being allowed to carry guns (now thats a scary thought isn't it)

-- Posted by Dianatn on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 6:50 PM

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Guns should NEVER be allowed on a campus of any kind. Unless it is by a member of the Campus Police, or an offduty/on-duty officer within that city or county.

Screening is a must, but will not guarantee accuracy. People snap, and tragically abuse their power, and a screening test won't always detect that.

-- Posted by nascarfanatic on Tue, Oct 9, 2007, at 6:57 PM

Just a question. If they allow guns onto campuses the gun carrier will be required to have a gun carrying permit, right? So that eliminates anyone under 21. Or would those laws be changed?

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Wed, Oct 10, 2007, at 8:50 AM

Just a question. If they allow guns onto campuses the gun carrier will be required to have a gun carrying permit, right? So that eliminates anyone under 21. Or would those laws be changed?

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Wed, Oct 10, 2007, at 8:50 AM

I don't know if they will be changing the age limit or not but if they don't it sure does seem to be an unfair advantage because about half of College Students are under 21.

-- Posted by Dianatn on Wed, Oct 10, 2007, at 9:18 AM

I really do think schools (colleges alike) should be as protected as WalMart. I have a carrying permit, I carry my gun with me 24/7 EXCEPT places like WalMart, it is illegal. I know some people do it but I just don't feel like going to jail. That being said, at 18 I had been around guns and equipment for a long time. I knew they weren't toys. I knew they most always have lasting effects when you draw. BUT I do not think that everyone is as lucky as I was. I don't think guns belong on campuses unless they are on the belt of a officer. A carefully screened officer.

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Wed, Oct 10, 2007, at 9:25 AM

Is it time for someone to invent a backpack that can quickly be converted to a bullet-proof vest in emergencies?

-- Posted by bomelson on Thu, Oct 11, 2007, at 2:28 PM

Bo, I think you need to apply for a patent on that!

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Thu, Oct 11, 2007, at 3:36 PM

Is it time for someone to invent a backpack that can quickly be converted to a bullet-proof vest in emergencies?

-- Posted by bomelson on Thu, Oct 11, 2007, at 2:28 PM

Bo, I think you need to apply for a patent on that!

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Thu, Oct 11, 2007, at 3:36 PM

And do it fast!

-- Posted by darrick_04 on Thu, Oct 11, 2007, at 4:47 PM

Seriously David, or anyone for that matter, are they thinking of lowering the age to have a carrying permit? That in itself seems dangerous.

-- Posted by LauraSFT on Fri, Oct 12, 2007, at 7:52 AM

LauraSFT, as far as I know there are no plans to lower the age. I think MTSU's student government was just reacting to what happened.

-- Posted by David Melson on Fri, Oct 12, 2007, at 12:20 PM


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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.