Old Dominion University’s Board of Visitors has approved a ban on everyone (except law enforcement officers) from bringing a gun on campus. Bearing Drift reported earlier about the ban and the demonstrations that took place on campus. The Board of Visitors originally tabled their decision until now, but this ban will not only impact students from carrying firearms, but it will also impact visitors from being able to do so as well.
“The board considered the regulation in response to a non-binding opinion in July by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli that the university’s existing policy barring those with concealed-carry permits from bringing a firearm on campus is not enforceable.
ODU and most other Virginia state colleges and universities have for years had policies that banned firearms. Such policies can be enforced on students, employees, contractors and anyone with a ticket to a campus event.”
Cuccinelli’s official opinion can be read here. However, there are some key points to remember from his opinion:
1) under current Virginia law, a public university generally cannot prohibit open or concealed carry of a firearm on campus GROUNDS;
2) under current Virginia law, a public university POLICY may prohibit persons from OPENLY carrying firearms in campus BUILDINGS and at EVENTS;
3) under current Virginia law, a public university POLICY may NOT prohibit persons with valid concealed carry permits from carrying firearms CONCEALED in campus BUILDINGS and at EVENTS.
It is obvious in the light of the horrible murders on Virginia Tech’s campus back in 2007 and 2011 that ODU (and other colleges and universities throughout the country) would be concerned about campus safety. It is their right to be vigilant about the safety of their students and staff. However, to limit visitors who have a concealed carry permit to do so, would be wrong and unconstitutional.
While ODU believes a gun ban will keep the campus community (including visitors) safe from crime, one needs to examine this very carefully. ODU is not exactly in a secure area of Norfolk, rather according to campus crime statistics (pg. 41), in 2010, there were 6 forcible sex offenses, 4 robberies, 4 aggravated assaults, and 21 burglaries. In 2011, the nephew of Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings was murdered on campus, thus bringing to light the danger of ODU and surrounding areas.
This poses an intriguing question: Why would ODU ban those who have a concealed carry permit from being on campus grounds? As long as the weapon is concealed, there should be no problems. Firearms are a constitutional right. After all, we have the right to bear arms, as granted in the Second Constitutional Amendment. Firearms are used as a means of self-defense, and those who receive a concealed carry permit often have to apply, pass the requirements, and at least, have some knowledge on how to use a firearm (this is recommended and mandated in some states) for the license.
Perhaps, those at ODU should take a look at college campuses in areas like Baltimore, MD. Murders and other acts of violence have been on the rise in Baltimore for years now, and their leaders are notorious asking for more gun control measures as a way to protect the city. There has been a rise in crime, even though the city and the State of Maryland have tough gun control laws.
According to a report from OpenBaltimore, there were 203 homicides and 388 shootings in the city during 2010. In comparison, if you look over the report released to The Baltimore Sun by the Baltimore Police Department, there was only a three homicide difference between January 2012 and January 2011. So far, Baltimore has had five homicides and nine shootings in 2012, compared to eight homicides and sixteen shootings in 2011.
There is no doubt that the violence in the city, in terms of homicides and shootings, have been spared from the local universities. However, the local universities have had their share of aggravated assaults, forcible sex offenses, robberies, and burglaries.
Crime is rampant across the nation. Firearms are used in means of self-defense, and with common sense and proper knowledge, one is not likely to cause harm. For ODU to ban firearms, it is not only a bad idea, but one that suppresses liberty.