Education: the key to fighting ignorance in the concealed carry on campus debate

by Stephen J. Feltoon

It seems that this year more than ever, increasing numbers of state legislatures are considering expanding concealed carry rights. As firearms are a hot-button issue, the print medium in particular has noticeably increased its coverage. One tactic the media love to employ is to interview and quote individuals on both sides of the issue, and when it comes to firearms, more opponents tend to be interviewed. But this is really a blessing in disguise as it offers proponents like ourselves a glimpse into the mind of the other side.

In a recent Oxford Press article regarding concealed handguns on college campuses, police Sergeant Jim Squance noted that he is "concerned about the safety issue because when young people have easy access to alcohol and parties, a weapon in the wrong hands could cause a disaster." There is hardly a single pair of words in Sgt. Squance's quote that is not misguided.

For starters, it is our duty to make Squance and others aware that these "young people" are adults who are at least 21 years old, have a clean background and who have successfully completed an appropriate training course. Additionally, Squance fails to realize that licensed individuals can already carry into an off-campus residence. Perhaps my biggest problem with Squance's quote is that he failed to mention that possession of a firearm while intoxicated is illegal. So there should be nothing that Squance should be worried about, right?

In the article, Miami University sophomore Brian Godfrey remarks that "knowing that those with gun permits are allowed to have them on campus would make me nervous on a daily basis." Ladies and gentlemen, this is the type of ignorance that we are up against; this is the exact ignorance that led New York Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy to define a barrel shroud as "a shoulder thing that goes up." Replace the phrase "on campus" from the quote with any other location, and then ask Godfrey if he feels nervous going to the movies, or to buy groceries, or to the bank, since these are locations where (barring a sign on the window) concealed carry is allowed.

The News-Herald, based in Willoughby, OH, recently ran a similar story about the national uptick in pro-concealed carry legislation. At Lakeland Community College, like Miami University, the journalist showcased the basic problem plaguing pro-firearm efforts.

Junior David Tomac is quoted as saying "Because you [wouldn't] know who may be carrying a concealed weapon...I would probably stop attending this university if" concealed carry were allowed on campus. An anonymous sophomore echoed this sentiment by saying, "I don't trust these people. So I'm not coming to this school if that happened here."

I wonder if these students would stop going to the supermarket if they were told that concealed carry licensees shopped there. I wonder if these students would stop driving if they were told that concealed carry licensees drive on the same roads they do. I'd be willing to bet that these two individuals have never given any thought to what it takes to receive a concealed carry license and what type of person applies for such a license.

When it comes to changing minds, we must start with the basics. For us to succeed, we must use facts. And the facts are on our side. All it takes is a moment of your time to call individuals such as Jim Squance and David Tomac, and to present them with the facts — rational, concise facts.

Stephen J. Feltoon is a 2007 graduate of Miami University and the Ohio Legislative Director of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

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