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Crime fires concealed carry into spotlight at Ohio State

Before he enrolled at the university, Justin Bliss, a third-year in international studies, was warned by his father about the problem of campus-area crime.
“It’s something to consider when you consider enrolling in here, but it’s a great school and that’s one of the only few problems that I think really needs attention,” Bliss said.
The Aug. 26 safety notice warned students of an armed robbery that had occurred near Hitchcock Hall, and also informed them of other crimes that had occurred in the off-campus area.
In response to the alert, the student group Buckeyes for Concealed Carry sent an email to students asking how their lives could be different if they would be able to use “life-saving” tools such as guns on campus.
Although Bliss said he was aware of recent campus crimes, he strongly disapproves of the email he received from Buckeyes for Concealed Carry last week following a public safety notice sent by Ohio State Police.
Some students have been advocating for a change in the rule that prohibits guns on campus, such as Buckeyes for Concealed Carry president Michael Newbern.
“We want people who have gotten their license, who can carry off campus … (to be able to) carry on campus as well,” he said. “There is no way to keep guns from coming onto campus, and the Hopkins Hall victim being robbed at gunpoint is a perfect proof.”
However, other students like Bliss said they would be uncomfortable if guns were allowed on campus.
“I don’t agree with the concealed carry. I think the more weapons you put in the hands of inexperienced students, the more likely something is going to go wrong,” Bliss said.
To concealed cary advocates, Ohio State’s Code of Student Conduct, which specifically prohibits the “storage or possession of dangerous weapons, devices or substances including, but not limited to, firearms, ammunition or fireworks,” contradicts the Second Amendment, which states “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
According to licensing data from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s website, there were 16,823 licenses issued in the first quarter of 2012. Since the law took effect in April 2004, a total of 296,588 licenses have been issued in Ohio according to 2011 data. In Franklin County alone, 1,130 licenses have been issued – the highest number for Ohio’s 88 counties.
In an email, OSU Police Chief Paul Denton stressed the police’s respect for constitutional rights but also emphasized that there is a reason behind the Code of Student Conduct.
“The fact is that under current Ohio law, concealed carry license holders are limited or prohibited from carrying concealed handguns in numerous locations, among which are churches, synagogues, mosques, child day care centers, buildings owned or leased by Ohio or its political subdivisions, colleges and universities,” Denton said in the email.
Shaun Laubis, a fourth-year in logistics management, supported the prohibition of guns on campus until his friends were affected by criminal acts at the end of last year. Two months ago, Laubis bought a gun and took a 12-hour class that allowed him to get a concealed-carry permit.
“If I was on campus and something happened, I would personally feel safer knowing that there are other people on campus who might have the opportunity to stop someone from doing something,” Laubis said.
But those situations, Denton said, can make things more dangerous and complicated.
“In the event of an active, hostile shooter, having other armed individuals on campus will only complicate an already confusing and difficult situation,” Denton said. “Responding officers will face added difficulty to readily identify friend or foe, an individual posing a threat from one who does not, placing themselves and the others they must protect at greater risk. “
For Buckeyes for Concealed Carry member Elizabeth Greenslade, this is her first year living off campus. Although she has taken self-defense classes, Greenslade is not confident she can protect herself when walking home from campus at night.
“It makes me feel uncomfortable to know that no one around me is armed, except for someone who has the intention of actually harming me,” said Greeenslade, a second-year in environmental science.
Newbern is convinced that the majority of criminal acts on campus do not have to end with the actual use of the weapon. He thinks that sometimes it is enough to draw attention to its possession to scare off the criminal.
“Gun control only affects the law-abiding citizens,” Newbern said.
There are 43,000 people affiliated with Students of Concealed Carry, a national group that Buckeyes for Concealed Carry is affiliated with.

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