U’s gun policy puts students at risk

There have been a lot of complaints regarding Martin Wingard’s possible action against the University in regard to its concealed weapons policy. A good number of these complaints are ignorant of the situation, while the others are simply ridiculous. Overall, the University’s policy is both destructive and illegal.

First, there seems to be some confusion about the “lawsuit.” I use quotes because there is no lawsuit. It’s only a possibility. The primary problem people such as Wingard and myself have is not with the University’s policies, which ban students carrying weapons, but with the University banning firearms for everyone who walks on campus.

Although it’s bad policy for the University to ban students from carrying weapons (such as pepper spray), students voluntarily enter into an agreement that includes a code of conduct. This is not illegal.

On the other hand, it is illegal for the University to ban nonstudents from exercising their constitutional and state law-enforced right to protection. In addition to this, the University has been delinquent in putting up signs explaining their policies to the otherwise uninformed individual who, while walking through campus, thought he was acting lawfully.

Second, it is simply bad policy for the University to ban weapons. The unequivocal statistics that show a direct correlation between gun ownership and reduced crime will not be quoted, but can easily be found. If you are not convinced, look them up. It is ironic that in the Sept. 18 issue of the Daily there was an article opposing gun rights because of low crime on campus (“Guns and Goldy: Weapons debates comes to the U”), while in the same issue there was a story of a man holding up a classroom in Tennessee (“Gunman takes college classroom hostage”), an article on recent campus crime (“Recent campus crimes include theft, forgery”) and an article on how students need to be more cautious regarding safety (“U police: Students can help prevent crime”). In addition, there were 23 reported rapes and six reported aggravated assaults in 2002, according to the University police. The school is certainly not crime-free.

The ability to carry concealed weapons is one of the surest ways to prevent crime. It makes use of strategic deterrence. If you might be armed, I am less likely to attack. To put up a sign in a store saying “no guns allowed” says, “If you want to rob a store, rob this one.”

The possibility of a concealed gun puts fear in the mind of the criminal. This is especially relevant for the woman who waited more than 30 minutes for the escort service and decided to walk home alone. How will she protect herself from the pervert who attacks her? What about the homosexual student who gets assaulted on his way home just for being gay? How does he protect himself against his three attackers?

The University police cannot be everywhere. How many people actually trust the campus police for safety? To be honest, it’s best to avoid them while carefully walking across the street on a solid white walk signal.

The right to carry guns is the right to equality. The old, defenseless lady is now equally as powerful as her large attacker. The University’s current policy is counterproductive to safety.

The University’s regulation of firearms is atrocious. It illegally prohibits nonstudents from exercising their rights according to state law.

It legally, but foolishly, prohibits students from protecting themselves.

Twenty-nine people last year would have been a lot better off if firearms had been legal. Whether through lawsuits or activism, students must demand their rights, and the University’s policy must change.

Chris Hill is a senior aerospace engineering student and the executive director of Minnesota Young Americans for Freedom. He welcomes comments at [email protected]