Concealed carry on campus? Opinions seem to be divided

Eight states now have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses: Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, according to http://www.armedcampuses.org.

With states and schools starting to have discussions about allowing concealed carry on college campuses in the wake of recent mass shootings and pressure from 2nd Amendment activists,, the question slowly rises here at Norwich. Opinions among students and staff are very mixed.

Frank Vanecek, vice president of enrollment and student life, doesn’t agree with the idea of having weapons allowed on campus.

“We want to keep weapons off campus. The president of Norwich’s philosophy is to keep weapons off campus. If there are no weapons on campus, there should be no shootings so that’s the benefit of it,” said Vanecek.

He stressed that ensuring a safe environment for the Norwich community was a very important priority.

Norwich administration doesn’t take the subject lightly when it comes to safety, and has had multiple discussions on whether it will allow guns on campus.

“Norwich does take this concept seriously and we have discussed it in the past, and more recently within the past two months, and we will revisit this in years to come,” said Vanecek.

Norwich University has no plans either for arming the school’s security staff.

“I don’t think Norwich is there at that point right now, and I don’t foresee it happening in the future. The only way it could happen is if we as an institution decided to change the entire role of public safety,” said Vanecek.

Multiple Norwich alumni have reached out to Norwich, curious about what Norwich was going to do to prevent attacks like other schools have suffered.

If Norwich were to say yes to have campus public safety staff carrying weapons, it wouldn’t be something that happens overnight since they would need to be trained.

“The opposite side is well, who do you arm? Would you arm public safety? Or would you arm somebody else?” said Vanecek.

In student Jeff Belleza’s opinion, that decision should fall to each individual student. But student opinions spanned both ends of the spectrum.

Belleza is for a policy shift. “I believe that you should be able to carry a gun concealed at Norwich as a student at least and even faculty if they want,” said Belleza, a 21-year-old communications major from Leominster, Mass. However he thinks safety training and a background check should be required before anyone is allowed to carry on campus.

Cynthia Souimaniphanh is opposed to the guns on campus. “I believe that students or faculty members should not be able to conceal any weapons on this campus,” said Souimaniphanh, a 21-year-old criminal justice major from Austin, Texas.

Others find themselves somewhere in the middle, either comfortable with defaulting to the school’s decision, or advocating for some kind of selection and training as to who is allowed firearms.

“I don’t think it really matters what people think about it because this is private property and Norwich is going to decide not to have weapons on campus as far as I’m concerned,” said Jim Black, a 27-year-old communications major from Mansfield, Mass., and a veteran.

“I think concealed carry is a good idea but I don’t think all of the students should be able to carry unless they are given proper training. Faculty and security should only be allowed to carry but I don’t think that every person in the student body should be able to carry a concealed weapon,” said Cadet Colonel Erin Gats.

While there is some student support for the policy change, Norwich Chief of Public Security Larry Rooney puts things in perspective.

“My concern is, if someone was to have a weapon, is how would we protect other people from anyone who has a weapon and decides to use it unlawfully in an aggressive way. We can’t protect them from that, and that’s a huge concern,” said Rooney, who oversees campus security.

Additionally, Norwich operates on an open campus, which poses serious risk. “We wouldn’t know who’s carrying a weapon and we don’t check people coming on and off campus, so that’s not going to stop someone from bringing a weapon on campus,” said Rooney.

“But if it were allowed, I think most students would abide by the rules and regulations. In other colleges, I know that they have a program where they check weapons in for hunters.”

Rooney believes that students have that right to do so and should be able to use their rights while here at Norwich. “I support gun laws, and I support people to carry weapons, it’s the 2nd Amendment. I think there should be regulation on it. The school has chosen not to allow it and I support that,” said Rooney.

Ultimately, the decision will come from President Schneider, and based on his current position Norwich shouldn’t be expecting anything new. “The president isn’t planning on doing anything about the rules currently, but if we did anything, it would be that we allow concealed carry or open carry for our public safety officers, but the odds of that happening are very small. I don’t see that happening in the future,” said Vanecek.

Comments

  1. Steven P Robinson says:

    When I was at Norwich 8/75 12/79), we were allowed to keep firearms on campus, in an armory down in the student service center. These were arms for both target practice and hunting purposes. Some students of my acquaintance did keep handguns in their dorm room.

    In the 4 /12 years I was on campus, do not remember any shootings on or near campus by any cadet or civilian student of Norwich. We settled our differences with harsh words, or fisticuffs.

    The most infamous shooting was a couple years after I left when a cadet went off his nut and shot at the Montrealer. Dr Vanecek will likely remember that.

    I am a bit of a Second Amendment Fundamentalist (as I am for the entire Constitution and Bill of Rights). However, in my understanding of “well regulated,” that does mean reasonable restrictions and that one must needs be properly trained to arms, including the safe and lawful use thereof.

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