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Concealed carry laws trigger protests

Jackie Storer / Lantern photographer

Guns and coffee collided Tuesday outside as Ohio State students from the group Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus spent part of their Valentine’s Day advocating for the right to carry a weapon on campus.

The group protested outside Starbucks on 14th Avenue and High Street in a response to a nationwide boycott against Starbucks for its neutral position on concealed carry.

The National Gun Victim’s Action Council called for a nationwide boycott of Starbucks on Valentine’s Day until the corporation prohibits guns in the stores.

Michael Newbern, a second-year in industrial engineering and president of Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus, said Starbucks has a neutral position on concealed carry laws.

Starbucks company spokesperson wrote in an email the company follows the state law but did not say whether it is for or against concealed carry.

“At Starbucks we deeply respect the views of our customers, and recognize that there is significant and genuine passion surrounding the issue of open carry weapons laws. We comply with local laws and statues in the communities we serve. Our long-standing approach to this issue remains unchanged and we abide by the laws that permit open carry in 43 U.S. states where these laws don’t exist, openly carrying weapons in our stores is prohibited,” a Starbucks company spokesperson said in an email.

Newbern said the group was also protesting Ohio law and OSU’s policy to carry a firearm on campus.

OSU Police Chief Paul Denton said OSU follows the state’s law for concealed carry, and follows OSU employee policy and student code of conduct.

“We support the Second Amendment, that’s first and foremost,” Denton said.

State law prohibits firearms in specified locations, including police stations, jails, day cares, airport terminals and airplanes, hospitals for the mentally ill, school safety zones, courthouses, places of religious worship, colleges and universities, and recently any location that has alcohol, Denton said.

OSU has locations that fall under state law that prohibit concealed carry. For example, a student cannot walk into the police station in Blankenship Hall on campus because state law says firearms are prohibited in police stations.

Similarly, a firearm cannot be carried into the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State because it holds facilities to treat the mentally ill. Students are not able to carry a firearm on campus, Denton said, but can lock their firearm in their car before walking on campus.

One side of High Street allows concealed carry, and the other does not because it is part of campus.

Ross Krieg, a fifth-year in mechanical engineering, was at Tuesday’s protest.

“I want to know why it’s any different that I can stand here right now, but as soon as I walk across the street, I am perceived as irresponsible, unfit to carry a firearm,” Krieg said. “What changes across High Street?”

Krieg said his life was saved because he had a firearm after an attack in December 2010 on Patterson Avenue, north of campus.

“I was on my way to a friend’s house and a guy jumped me, tackled me and was beating me,” Krieg said. “After a losing battle and damage to my face, I drew my firearm and gave the perpetrator a choice.”

Krieg said his attacker ran away and he did not have to fire his weapon.

“It’s not that I don’t feel safe on campus, it’s traveling off campus,” Krieg said.

Newbern said he carries a firearm for his own personal safety too.

“It takes away the likelihood that a criminal will target us,” Newbern said.

Denton said he believes possessing a firearm on campus grounds will not improve safety on campus.

“I don’t think having more guns on campus makes us a safer place and the law does not need to be changed,” Denton said.

Anastasia Pataky, a second-year in fashion and retail studies, said she is in support of OSU’s policy.

“I think that it would cause way too many problems and put students in a vulnerable state,” Pataky said. “We’re young, we’re learning, we don’t need to put kids in jail for accidental gunfire. I just think there is so much danger, I just don’t see the necessity of (concealed carry).”

Rami Aziz, a second-year in political science, said the main reason he wants to carry his firearm is to protect himself, not to cause an uproar.

“We don’t want to break the law,” Aziz said. “We’re not outlaws.”

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