Skip to comments.Defending their rights by sticking to their guns(NC)
Posted on 02/13/2012 5:19:50 AM PST by marktwain
While participating in highway clean ups, the Student for Concealed Carry on Campus chapter seems like the average club doing community service at first glance. These students take safety precautions to a different level though. Along with the reflective vests and garden gloves, these students carry pistols in holsters while serving their community.
"We get a pretty good amount of horn beeps and woo-hoos' and stuff while we're out there," Clark Lynn said. Lynn is a senior in psychology and president of the N.C. State chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.
A club's mission
As part of a national organization founded after the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, SCCC advocates the legalization of handguns on college campuses.
Lynn feels that the current laws are unfairly restrictive to those who have met the requirement to carry a gun.
"It doesn't make a lot of sense for most people who have concealed carry permits that North Carolina trusts you to carry everywhere else in North Carolina, but once you cross that arbitrary street line you turn into somebody who is not trustworthy," Lynn said.
Ryan Millar, alum and former president of NCSU SCCC, said the University's chapter is looking to enact similar gun rights on different campuses.
"Campuses in Utah have gun legislation allowing them to carry on campus and there hasn't been one incident of violence on their campus that has been newsworthy," Millar said. "All the other campuses that have major violent occurrences, like shootings, are gun free zones."
According to Lynn, the club currently consists of a core of 25 to 30 members. The group's Facebook page has 276 members and is being more active this year than in the past. Activities include biweekly meetings, cleaning the adopted stretch of Tryon Road and raising awareness and petition signatures in the Brickyard.
"The petition is basically saying that people support the idea of being able to carry guns on campus whether they want to or they just support other people in general," Millar. "When we get enough signatures we plan on getting in touch with the [N.C. Government's] legislature."
According to Millar, the group currently has 202 signatures.
Lynn and Millar are only advocating for policies that allow students, who would otherwise be eligible to carry, to be allowed to do so on campus.
"If someone comes in the room and starts shooting at you, I'm probably going to shoot him, for example," Lynn said.
Lynn said he wouldn't go out of his way, as a vigilante, to act as campus's guard dog. He said he carries for personal defense.
"If [the gunman] is downstairs and I'm up here, why would I go down there? I'm trying to avoid that situation to start with."
A professor's stance
Not everyone agrees with the club's stance on campus gun control. Robert Kochersberger, an associate professor of English, recently wrote an op-ed in the News and Observer stating that firearms "hold a lot more potential for injury than any public good."
"My own personal opinion is that it would not help to have armed students walking around," Kochersberger said. "I think there is a lot more likelihood people who are not involved in any kind of violence on campus are going to be hurt if there are more weapons on campus."
A student's vulnerability
Standing six feet tall, Ross Pilotte did not think himself to be a likely target for robbery. On Feb. 8 at 8:16 p.m., he was walking back from the library when that presumption was rudely shattered. Near the corner of Hillsborough Street and Dan Allen Drive, a man approached him, implied he had a weapon and demanded his wallet.
Pilotte said he was able to punch the perpetrator in the throat, which frightened the robber to flee off campus down Brooks Avenue and "within 120 seconds" campus police were on the scene. A WolfAlert e-mail was sent at 8:41 pm.
"I think I've learned anyone is fair game [for being targeted]," Pilotte said.
Pilotte is a sophomore in fisheries and wildlife science, a concealed-carry permit holder and a member of SCCC. Pilotte praised the efforts of campus police but believed that he could have handled the situation more effectively had he been permitted to carry his canceled weapon.
"Concealed carry [holders] aren't vigilantes, aren't cowboys," Pilotte said. "They are people that are not necessarily worried, but want to protect themselves, their families and other individuals form individuals who will commit crimes."
In the meantime, Pilotte encourages students to keep an awareness of their surroundings.
"Eventually someone who is smaller than me is going to be faced with [assault] and I would hate to see another student hurt," Pilotte said. "We're all a big family here."
An officer's advice
Cpt. Ian Kendrick of Campus Police said while it is understandable that some want to carry firearms for protection, it is against the letter of the law to have a firearm of any type on campus.
"Until the laws are changed to reflect that [sentiment], we ask that folks comply with the law and University regulations," Kendrick said. "We understand people want to protect themselves and it's human nature to want to protect one's self, but the state and University have seen fit to enact laws and regulations because there is apparently a need to do so. We ask you to honor and respect those regulations."
Kendrick stated that the police department would be happy to answer any questions on the topic of gun control, or firearms in general. The non-emergency number for Campus Police is 919-515-3000.
An armed and peaceful defense
Standing on the Brickyard on occasional Friday afternoons, the members of SCCC set up a both to spread the word on their club and their mission. That mission, however, isn't the stereotypical watchdog gun-owner. They feel that current regulation only hinders law-abiding citizens from their own self-defense, obstructing their constitutional rights.
Their feedback has been positive so far.
"We had one person come up and say it was a bad idea, out of a few hundred that stopped by," Lynn said.
Reinforcing their view, according to Millar, are the cumbersome and multiple legal requirements for concealed carry, including time, fees and finger printing.
"I don't think people would go through the trouble of getting a permit to commit a crime," Millar said. "If you're going to go out and kill someone, that's illegal. It doesn't really matter if you're going to carry illegally or not."
According to Lynn, the group is planning an "open-holster protest" to take place in the coming months to raise awareness. Members will wear empty holsters for a week to help students make connections of who is allowed to carry.
"People think we can just put up no gun' signs," Lynn said. "Law abiding citizens and permit holders will obey it, but
criminals don't pay attention to 'no gun' signs."
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