The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

April 21, 2008

Pistol pack’n pupils?

KSU students debate carrying concealed weapons

ASHTABULA — At the one year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, students Monday at Kent State University-Ashtabula Campus debated whether they should be allowed to carry concealed weapons.

The debate was prompted by a student’s request to carry a concealed weapon on campus. Students were planning a peaceful protest on the issue, but instead a debate was organized.

According to the law, there are certain areas in the state where, even if a person has a license, he or she cannot carry a concealed handgun. One of those places are public and private colleges and universities, said Eric Brewer, music instructor and one of the organizers of the debate.

“Utah and Arizona are the only states that expressly allow students to carry weapons on campus,” he said.

The six panelists, three who are in favor of students carrying weapons and three who are against it, were asked several questions on the issue, and were then given time to state their case.

The first question asked each side’s position on Ohio’s concealed carry law and how it applies to colleges and universities.

“It’s in the best interest and safety of students that the Ohio Revised Code be changed to allow students to carry weapons,” said Jason Keeler, one of the panelists who is in favor of students carrying guns.

Keeler said in 1994 there were only 21 states that had concealed carry laws and crime rates were significantly higher. Because the law worked, 48 states now have concealed carry laws in place, he said.

Joe Keefe, who is against the issue, said he supports the Second Amendment and he doesn’t support most gun laws, but feels there are places were guns should not be allowed and institutions of higher education are one of them.

When asked how universities can prevent someone who is not a KSU student, faculty member of staff member, from coming onto campus and engaging in a shooting spree, Sarah Gonzalez said administrators could start by beefing up security and students could petition for metal detectors.

Keeler said not being able to identify every single student on campus is precisely why guns should be allowed because being able to defend yourself is the key to a safer campus.

“Every state that has passed concealed carry laws has had a decrease in crime,” he said. “Without the proper security, there is no way to keep guns off campus. We don’t have the security to make this a gun-free zone.”

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