• OPINION: The Time For Concealed Carry On Campus Is Now

    A small group of female students at the University of Nevada – Reno had just finished a midterm for an evening class that ended at 10:00 p.m. With the campus dark and deserted, the women ventured together to retrieve their vehicles from a nearby parking garage. After all, “safety in numbers.” One of the women, who had parked on the ground floor, split off from the group and made her way to her car.

    Her life would never be the same.

    In that parking garage, less than 100-feet from the campus police department, Amanda Collins was brutally raped – at gunpoint. Her rights were violated that night, not just by her attacker but also by her university. Amanda had a concealed carry weapons permit, but current policy prohibited her from carrying her weapon on campus. This prevented her from defending herself against a violent, gun-wielding, rapist who would go on to rape two more women – one of whom he killed.

    The opposition to concealed carry comes from a variety of sources within the campus community. Campus law enforcement wants less guns on campus, but can’t guarantee the safety of students. They continue to assert that students with guns would exacerbate active shooter scenarios, as if campus police could ever react fast enough to prevent one in the first place. Leftist political activists, who routinely decry rape culture and the epidemic of sexual assaults on campus, oppose the idea yet fail to see it as means of self-defense for women and LGBT students.

    Still others in the campus community, who advocate in the name of freedom for gay marriage, legalized marijuana, and dozens of recognized gender identities, refuse to accept the constitutionally-protected right of law-abiding CCW permit holders, who have passed a rigorous set of requirements to earn the license, to protect themselves.

    Making matters worse, banning guns locked in vehicles on campus robs students of the ability to defend themselves well beyond the confines of their college campus and daily class schedule. Students who drive to school and plan to park there, who may even have off-campus jobs after class, are left with no choice but to leave their firearm at home – possibly for the entire day. There can be no justification for this level of overreach into students’ private lives.

    The Second Amendment safeguards our natural right to self-defense, a right that does not vanish when a student enters a college campus. In crossing that arbitrary line, criminals don’t become upstanding members of society, CCW permit holders don’t morph into irresponsible aggressors, and campus police officers aren’t suddenly better equipped to protect students from violent crime. There is no evidence to suggest that people behave differently on campus than off, therefore they should not be treated as such.

    Meanwhile, universities create a false sense of security by advertising “gun free zones,” when that’s simply not the case. Unlike courthouses, airports, and even NFL stadiums, they have no mechanism in place to stop guns from entering school property, the classroom, or a dimly lit parking garage after an evening midterm.

    In order to ensure that students are able to exercise their right to self-defense, states must pass legislation to allow concealed carry on campus. Nevada will soon have the opportunity to do so, with two bills currently before the legislature that would allow guns to be locked in vehicles and concealed carry on campus (Assembly Bills 148 and 2, respectively). Changing the law won’t change anything for Amanda Collins, but Nevada would be one less state that leaves its students defenseless against violent crime.

    Mark Ciavola

    Mark Ciavola is a Nevada-based political consultant.

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