Students protest guns laws

Victoria Garcia

This week will be one of peaceful protesting for the 21 members of Washburn Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

In the hopes of making a statement about allowing those with concealed carry licenses to carry guns on campus, the group will wear empty gun holsters Monday through Friday during their time on campus.

Sophomore Nicholas Parkhill, the overall leader of the group for the Washburn campus, explained WSCCC also plans to wear T-shirts and hand out information throughout the protest week.

“Through this protest, we are simply saying that those who are already legally licensed should have the right to defend themselves where they spend the majority of their time, which is on campus,” said Parkhill.

Organized nationally under the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus banner, more than 25,000 students across the United States plan to take part in this non-violent protest. This organization held its first national collegiate protest during the week of Oct. 22 through Oct. 26, 2007.

In the wake of the first anniversary of the tragic Virginia Tech shooting, Parkhill is hoping the protest will showcase the organization’s desire for personal protection, something he doesn’t think the campus authorities and police could offer enough of in the event of a school shooting.

Paul Cope, campus leader for the Washburn School of Law, agrees strongly.

“I personally don’t feel that the campus police’s response time would be fast enough in the event of an actual school shooting,” said Cope. “We’re not out here wanting to be vigilantes, but we just want to be able to properly protect ourselves and concealed carry would give us that option as well as even the odds in such a situation.”

When it comes to the protest scheduled for the week, Dean Forster, chief of Washburn police, has no problems.

“People certainly have the right to speak their mind and generate conversation about such a topic,” said Forster, “It’s what college is all about.”

However, Forster isn’t convinced that WSCCC’s concern is for the welfare of all students. He doesn’t think the concealed carry law would apply to everyone even if it was passed because those who are licensed are not allowed to carry until the age of 21. This would mean that while some could benefit, others might not at all.

Furthermore, Forster believes that students carrying on campus and protecting themselves in the event of an actual school shooting could perhaps yield fatal results.

“Picture a shooting taking place in a large lecture hall in Henderson,” said Forster. “If we have licensed concealed carry students shooting to protect themselves along with the actual, dangerous shooter, our officers, who follow active shooter training, won’t necessarily be able to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guy.”

While Cope, Parkhill and others realize they’ve got an uphill battle ahead of them in regard to getting the concealed carry laws passed on the Washburn campus, they are prepared to plan for the worst and hope for the best by proving wrong the many misconceptions of the opposing side. This week’s peaceful protest is just the beginning.

“Many people are opposed,” said Cope. “We know and expect that, but we still hope to generate interest and get our opinion out there.”