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Columbia Missourian

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Banning guns threatens campus safety

By Omer Aswad
September 22, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Do you feel safe on campus?

Now I understand that we have Fulton cops and campus security stationed on our campus, and they do a great job, but they cannot be everywhere all the time.

Many of you do not know about the crimes, which are sometimes violent and occur on this campus. Most rapes are not recorded because the victims do not want anybody to know what happened to them.

To me, this is an indicator that we are not safe from exterior threats. There is no magical gate that separates college campuses from public land. That begs the question: How can students, faculty and staff protect themselves from those who want to do us harm?

As it stands today, the state of Missouri allows citizens who have a permit to conceal and carry a firearm. Anyone who is 21 and meets the requirements can carry in most areas, barring post offices, government buildings, public K-12 schools, etc. But Central Methodist University and other schools have regulations that state you cannot possess a firearm on their campus, marking it a “Gun-Free Zone."

When I hear the term “Gun-Free Zone,” I chuckle because there really is no such thing. To clarify, a “Gun-Free Zone” is intended to bar all firearms from a specific location (with exceptions for the police). Basically, it is a sign that says, “Nobody here has a gun. We are all completely defenseless. Come attack us.” It is an invitation, and I firmly believe that “Gun-Free Zones” do not work.

Let us take a look back at shootings that have occurred in the past at Virginia Tech, Columbine, malls, etc. It obviously didn’t work then, so who is to say that it is ever going to? I believe that allowing permit holders to be able to carry their firearms on campus will decrease campus crime. It has been proven that more guns in the hands of law abiding citizens has a direct correlation to a decrease in crime (such as Utah State allowing campus carry, which resulted in the decrease of campus crime).

I am not advocating that every student be handed an M-4 when they register for classes. All I am asking for is that permit holders who already carry on a daily basis be allowed to continue carrying while attending classes. This is not going disrupt classes or even be noticeable, as it is concealed carry — meaning that nobody else knows that you are carrying. The permit holder will have their gun in a holster, hidden safely away from the public eye.

What you may not know is that in Missouri, 2 to 10 percent of the population carries, which means that when you do your shopping at Stop & Shop or gas up your car at Shell, there are people carrying their own personal firearms around you. You don’t know it, nor does it affect you in any way.

Omer Aswad is a student at Westminster College in Fulton. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.