The Case For Self-Defense at Ohio State University

Contributed by a Buckeye Firearms Columbus volunteer

The area surrounding The Ohio State University is one of the most dangerous areas in the city and state, and there is very little the students can do to counteract it. Additionally students engage in vary risky practices that pre-select many of them for victimization, often without realizing it.

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We’ll begin with the crimes in the area surrounding campus. Both property crimes and crimes against persons occur at a staggering rate. Within the 7 day period from July 24th through the 30th there were 24 crimes against persons, including robberies, assaults, aggravated assaults, harassment and stalking incidents. Plus there was an additional 77 property crimes, including: burglaries, automobile break-ins and thefts. This doesn’t include an additional 3 crimes against persons and 15 property crime incidents reported on the OSU Police log for the same period. That’s over 110 criminal incidents within a week, and this during a period where most of the student population is at home for summer break! (Statistics obtained from the Columbus Police Reports website)

In the 3 years from 2002 - 2004, the latest period of time statistics are available for, there were 10 murders in the campus area (OSU Campus Crime Report,) not including at least two students who were taken from the area and killed elsewhere during that period. That is 12 students and non-students killed in a three year period, including the 5 students lost in the Arson fire in the spring of 2004. In that same period of time, 5 police officers were killed state-wide (FBI LEOKA Report), making Campus area student and resident a more dangerous profession than law enforcement officer!

I've personally seen guns pulled, including a mini-thug, maybe 12 - 13 years old, dumping a magazine load into Iuka Ravine, in broad daylight, in view of the Indianola bridge. I called that one in as shots fired, subject still on site, and the police made it there in just over an hour I'm told. I don't know because after 30 minutes I quit waiting.

When I was still in school in the mid 90's, I escorted a misunderstood young man (reads gang-banger) from my residence at the end of a Springfield .45, with the police dispatcher ON THE PHONE. Once he left I gave a firm description of the dude to the dispatcher, called out his direction of travel for at least another block, and then informed them that he was gone. I expected the whole department to descend on the area, because the last time there was a party across the street they mustered 5 cruisers and the helicopter for 1...that's right O-N-E...underage drinking arrest out of 150 people. But again, after about an hour I went to sleep because I was tired of waiting on police to take the report.

Unfortunately the students in the area bring much of this misery on themselves. I'm not saying that anyone deserves to be a victim at any time, but at the same time you have to own up to some culpability for the events that transpire when you bring them on yourselves. I've known people in the area that were more likely to leave their house to go to a party, bar, store for booze, etc than they were to go to class, and when they went to said event, they came home so intoxicated that they couldn't even tell you where they went, and at least a few of them had this funny habit of checking their pockets for both ATM receipts and criminal citations because they wouldn't remember getting them. I used to think that this was the exception, not the rule, then I had the misfortune of being on campus on a THURSDAY night last spring to help some guys fix a broken window caused by the previous Friday night's reverie (beer bottle chucked in from the street, not them doing something stupid). On their street there are about 20 houses visible from the porch and 14/20 had what I'd call a serious party with heavy drinking going on, and most of the rest had one or two people out with a beer in their hands. And on a School night too...

And it's not just blatant stupidity caused by alcohol or drug abuse, it's also more innocuous unsafe behavior given the neighborhood. Girls out running after sunset, alone, heading the wrong way down Summit (towards 5th from 11th, not that the other way is much better) with both ears plugged with headphones from the iPod. People that walk down the unlit alleys behind the buildings because the shortcut saves them 100 feet of walking over staying on the well-lit street. Students carrying valuable property in the open with their head up their rears, like the $300 iPod, the $200 Razor phone, the backpack that's obviously a laptop case, etc. Walking while talking on a cell phone or listening to the iPod, preventing any shred of awareness of what's going on around them. The examples of poor conduct in the interest of personal safety are too numerous to count.

And for those students who do choose to make their safety a priority and avoid poor personal conduct choices, there is little that they can do to protect themselves. The current CCW law basically amounts to a total disarmament of the entire student population while in the campus area. A significant percentage of the student population is under 21, making the legal carriage of a weapon an impossibility under any circumstances. Those who are of age cannot carry on campus as all of the buildings are state owned, and hence off limits to legal carry, plus OSU policy prohibits carrying any weapons on campus property. While there are circumstances where carry on campus is legal, such as in a car, or securing the weapon in a locked vehicle, doing so violates University policy which can lead to expulsion of a student or firing of a staff member. Leaving a weapon in a car is also a dangerous decision, because the number of automobile break-ins and thefts is staggering in the campus area. A majority of the campus area businesses either prohibit carry into their premises, or are restaurants or bars that have liquor licenses again making legal carry impossible. The net effect is that a student is rendered basically defenseless the entire time they spend in the campus area. Criminals know this and act accordingly: One big disarmed victim zone.

I shudder to think what it's going to be like in a couple of decades when my kids are ready to go to school. You shouldn't have to consider the crime rate when selecting what school your kids go to. Back when OSU was an open enrollment party school, the crime rate was nowhere near this high. Now our graduation rate goes up, the school gets rated in the top 10 research institutions in the country, but Ohio State university student becomes the most dangerous job in the state. At one time, the heaviest concerns facing students and their parents were whether they would fall victim to the pressures of drugs and alcohol, risky sexual activities and unintended pregnancy, or drop out of school due to poor academic performance. Now, at Ohio State, it’s a legitimate concern as to whether or not they will come home alive, in one piece, un-victimized by the crime that plagues the area.

But God help you if you're 19 and you get caught with a beer....

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