Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Why can’t I carry on campus?

By Brad Polumbo

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(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

On Nov. 13, Westfield State University went into lockdown after three witnesses reported seeing a suspicious man who appeared to be wearing body armor and was carrying a bulky backpack on campus. Luckily, it turned out to be a false alarm. But my friend, texting me frantically from a locked-down classroom near where the suspect was seen, didn’t know that. For all she knew, her school was about to become the next location of a mass shooting.

Sitting in class, I was terrified. All of a sudden, everything I’d seen on TV felt real, and I felt helpless. But why did I feel so powerless? Because here in Massachusetts (and therefore at the University of Massachusetts), the state legislature has decided that our campus should be a “gun-free zone.” As a result, students have been stripped of their Second Amendment right.

UMass students are prohibited from having a firearm (or even a BB gun) anywhere on campus, even in their dorm room; violating this rule can result in a fine up to $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to a year. But this misguided state law, which deprives individuals of their constitutional rights, misses the point: Trained individuals with permits should be allowed to have guns on campus, and even carry them on their person, because everyone—including students—has the right to self-defense.

A student living in the center of Amherst can carry a gun under Massachusetts law, but a student living in Southwest Residential Area can’t. Does that make sense?

Well, it makes sense if you believe that we can’t have any mass shootings if our campus is a gun-free zone. But that logic falters when you look at the Chattanooga military base shooting or the infamous Batman movie-theater shooting––both of which happened in places that banned firearms.

It’s not hard to see why. Anyone serious enough to carry out a mass shooting won’t be stopped by a campus policy, a “no guns allowed” sign or any other measure the Commonwealth rolls out. If anything, a gun-free zone becomes a ripe target for a would-be gunman. Dylann Roof, who carried out a mass shooting at an African-American church in South Carolina, originally thought about killing individuals at the College of Charleston, but is believed to have changed his mind because the college had armed guards. Gun bans on campus only disarm law-abiding students, which aren’t the people we need to worry about. With this legislation, they’re left helpless.

The ‘good guy with a gun’ argument takes a beating in the media. But ask yourself: In the case of a school shooting, wouldn’t you wish that one of your classmates, who is trained and authorized to carry a firearm, was allowed to exercise their Second Amendment right and protect you both?

The ‘good guy with a gun’ trope isn’t just a right-wing talking-point pushed by the National Rifle Association. In the recent First Baptist Church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the gunman’s rampage (in which he used a gun that he should not have been allowed to legally purchase) only ended when a neighbor grabbed his rifle and returned fire. In September, a Tennessee church shooting was stopped when an armed usher confronted the attacker. When a criminal opened fire on a crowd in Chicago last April, he was stopped by a nearby Uber driver who had a permit to carry. There are countless examples, and they all show what happens when people aren’t helpless.

Still, many are quick to criticize the idea of an armed campus, and believe that more guns will result in more violence. But frankly, that viewpoint is just detached from reality.

Only 16 states prohibit campus carry, and the rest either leave it up to individual schools to decide or allow it across the board. The University of Texas Austin has famously implemented concealed carry policies on campus, and so have many other colleges in the Lone Star state. Yet per “The Texas Tribune,” there’s been “no sharp increase in violence or intimidation,” and university administrators have described the year since the policy’s implementation as “quiet” and “uneventful.”

So why not bring campus carry to UMass? Current policies aren’t protecting anyone. If an individual chooses to come to this campus with the intention to harm people, no number of “gun-free zones” or “safe spaces” will protect us. But letting students carry just might.

Brad Polumbo is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected], or found on Twitter @Brad_Polumbo.


19 Responses to “Why can’t I carry on campus?”

  1. NITZAKHON on November 30th, 2017 9:49 am

    Cartoon about gun free zones:

    Say, isn’t rape illegal on campuses? Aren’t drugs illegal on campuses?

  2. Diane Fitch on November 30th, 2017 10:10 am

    I support your realistic point of view. Thank you for being brave enough to publish an unpopular opinion. I hope you don’t become a target of those who just can’t tolerate differing opinions.

  3. SittingBull on November 30th, 2017 11:35 am

    You have to love the “People’s Republic.” I seem to recall that the town of Amherst passed a resolution outlawing nuclear war when I was in school there. An excellent use of time and energy for a local governing body.

  4. RespectYouForSpeakingUp on November 30th, 2017 2:44 pm

    A small percentage of mass shootings happen in gun-free zones.
    People trying to stop mass shootings are just as likely to get shot themselves.
    People using guns for self defense does not reduce injury more than other self defense means.
    Zero evidence of right-to-carry laws reducing mass shootings or number of people shot.
    People (never mind stressed out college students) are way more likely to use guns on themselves than ever stop a mass shooting.
    Suicides, unintentional discharge, escalated disputes, and premeditated gun violence are all statistically more likely gun uses on college campuses than self-defense.
    Binge- drinking increases gun use.
    Age-specific homicide peaks at college age.

    I just don’t understand how you could think allowing everyone at UMass a gun will result in fewer gun deaths on campus than the status quo?

  5. NITZAKHON on December 1st, 2017 9:09 am

    People who want to be informed about guns and crime should read something besides that which appears in “news” outlets like the New York Times-Traitor:





    DIAL 911 AND DIE

  6. Ed Cutting, Ed.D. on December 1st, 2017 1:16 pm

    Try defending yourself against a rabid Coyote with a cell phone….

  7. Sean T Flaherty on December 1st, 2017 3:31 pm

    What I find interesting that many college studnets such as yourself beleive you should be able to Carry a wepon on campus, but did you know that the DOD (Department of Defense) had a prohibition against soldiers, airmen, Marines (I fall into that category) and sailors from carrying on base. This was lifted in 2016, but… and here is the caveat. The Military Times reports that

    Commanders, O-5 and above, “may grant permission to DoD personnel requesting to carry a privately owned firearm (concealed or open carry) on DoD property for a personal protection purpose not related to performance of an official duty or status,” the document states.

    Applicants must be 21 years of age or older, the age many states require an individual to be to own a firearm, according to the document. Proof of compliance may include a concealed handgun license that is valid under federal, state, local or host-nation law where the DoD property is located.

    “Written permission will be valid for 90 days or as long as the DoD Component deems appropriate and will include information necessary to facilitate the carrying of the firearm on DoD property consistent with safety and security, such as the individual’s name, duration of the permission to carry, type of firearm, etc.,” according to the document.

    When men and women who are highly trained i the military and who are sworn to defend the country are limited to carry a weapon, why do you think a college kid who often times is not trained, or even knowledgeable about their weapon should have the ability? We all know that when we were 18-22 we made dumb mistakes. The idea of a bunch of kids with weapons living in a dorm, or walking on a campus with thousands of other kids just sounds like a potential for issues. I hope they keep weapons off campuses.

  8. RevolversRule on December 1st, 2017 3:38 pm

    Great and reasonable article. However, one small correction: There was only one person who reported the sighting. Oddly enough it was the same woman of color who was in the middle of 2 instances of letters/graffiti in the dorm ans well as reported “being bumped by 3 white mails in hoodies, with racist words said to her”. Rumor control is that she was no longer welcomed on campus partly because she refused to give a handwriting sample.
    The spokesperson and the college president have obviously missed on passing that on to the media.

    So, I strongly agree that concealed carry on campus should be allowed, and I hope that the reciprocity bill that just passed through the House Judiciary committee comes into fruition.

  9. David Cannistraro on December 1st, 2017 4:29 pm

    Interesting??? ou will e the first one wishing someone near you had a permit to carry when some criminal is walking around shooting people and you can’t excape . It takes police many minutes to get to you if you were able to call 911. How many people would be dead before they get to you?????? Just a thought.

  10. Bri on December 1st, 2017 7:33 pm

    I don’t think this kid has ever even seen a gun lmao

  11. Andrew George on December 1st, 2017 8:00 pm

    Wow , what a refreshing article written by a young adult expressing Pro 2ND Amendment thoughts. I live in Amherst TAXachusetts and there is a saying here that goes “Welcome to Amherst Mass. where Reality is Optional” Amherst is a Hole in the head where Common sense goes out the window.

    This article gives me hope that the up and coming leaders and Citizens of TAXachusetts will use common sense and not Emotional over reaction like they did with the attachment of the Linsky bill added to the ban on the Bump Stock . Give a Liberal/DemoKrap an inch on Gun Control they will steal a mile every time they get., as demonstrated by the DemoKraps of TAXachusetts, thats why when it comes to the 2ND Amendment , it has to be NO, NO, NO to Gun Control and DemoKraps.

  12. Peter Lewicke on December 2nd, 2017 6:47 pm

    The Second Amendment was included for several reasons, including to put some teeth into the reserved right of the people to overthrow a government that abuses power in the Declaration of Independence. It might be nice to have the ability to defend oneself when the police don’t, but that is not a common necessity, and I hope that we, the people, will not have to throw the government out, but it would be nice to have the physical abilitty to do those things, if it became necessary.

    I blogged about this recently.

  13. Rebecca Piscia on December 4th, 2017 10:58 pm

    An important fact to consider is the high levels of alcohol/drug use on college campuses. Even if someone is trained in using a firearm, having them in dorms and on campus creates the possibility of guns being in the hands of intoxicated college students. Or worse, if the firearm isn’t properly stored, anyone with access to the room could then have access to a firearm. How would we be ensuring that they are properly secured so that only trained and permitted gun owners are carrying? Personally, I would be much more concerned these possibilities than the possibility of a shooter coming to target our campus.

  14. Bob Robertson on December 5th, 2017 9:19 am

    Because it’s Massachusetts. The control freaks are not going to allow you to do anything they don’t like.

  15. Sean T Flaherty on December 5th, 2017 3:12 pm

    The military does not allow professionals to carry whenever they want, and you think it is Massachusetts? It is Generals who make the call on bases? Do you trust the military leadership? A license to carry on a military base can be granted and only lasts 90 days. The base command has the right to say no. But lets arm a bunch of college kids who drink, party and have ZERO military or police training..


  16. Steve on December 5th, 2017 6:38 pm

    Of course, when that Islamic military psychiatrist decided kill as many of his military peers as possible on the base before he was stopped (by a good woman LEO with a gun, I think) all of those soldiers were helpless because they weren’t even allowed to carry weapons! And they’re in the [email protected]$ military whose job it is, largely, to kill people the U.S. Government doesn’t like.

  17. Donald L. Cline on December 6th, 2017 12:30 am

    It is time for people discussing and debating these issues to start a new thinking process based upon reality: If the school wants to minimize the risk of students drinking, partying, and shooting the place up, they can establish a class, for credit, required for admission, in which the reality is explained to them: Be found drunk in possession of a firearm and you are done, expelled permanently, and prosecuted for being intoxicated in possession of a firearm. No second chances, no do-overs: When someone is shot and/or killed, there is no do-over, so there is no do-over for risky behavior involving a firearm. Thus, also, while that class is mandatory, another class in which firearm safety and firearm tactical us is taught, should be optional. No one in their right mind carries a firearm without training as to the law and as to the reality of tactical shooting.

    That being said, however, here is the rest of reality: We, the people, have the right to keep and bear arms. Period. Full-stop. End of story. Our nation is founded both BY the right to keep and bear arms and FOR the right to keep and bear arms, for it is the one right that every other right depends upon. If the people do not have the right to keep and bear arms, they are not sovereign citizens. Any neighborhood thug, any government thug, any foreign thug, owns you if you are unarmed. And THEY will be armed.

    Allowing students to be armed as their fundamental right is not perfect, it will not always be sweetness and light, it will not always save the day … but it has a whole lot better chance of saving the day than a “No Guns Allowed” sign. And it accomplishes two other important objectives as well: People find out what “responsibility” and “civic duty” is, and America begins to restore itself to a nation in which its people stand up for liberty under the Rule of Law, once again rejecting the arbitrary whims of kings and princes and neighborhood political thugs and warlords. The USA — America! — is the first, only, and probably the last nation on Earth in which THE PEOPLE are responsible for what goes on in their vicinity. It is time Americans once again ‘make it so.’

  18. NITZAKHON on December 6th, 2017 5:30 am

    So you will trust a woman to be sexually free in an environment with drugs and alcohol, where having an abortion results in a death 100% of the time, but you won’t trust students – including women – with the ability to defend themselves?

    Gun control: The philosophy that a woman raped and murdered is morally superior to a woman who double-taps her attacked.

  19. TED on March 6th, 2018 11:25 pm

    The point of a gun free zone isn’t to stop a shooter who is already committed to following through with a shooting. Instead it is put in place to minimize accidental discharges, suicides, and easy access for someone who would like to commit a mass shooting. So often conservatives will make this point and yet they seem to fundamentally misunderstand what the point of a gun free zone is. Just having fire arms in an area naturally increase the possibility of accidental and purposeful discharges. This fact combined with the exceptionally low chance of a mass shooting makes allowing fire arms in any area far more risky then any possible benefit they could provide.

    Furthermore to better connect this to the article a college campus is one of the most protected areas. We already have a group of highly trained and armed police officers that can get anywhere on campus with in a couple minutes. In fact if you had read the article you sited about the Charleston shooter it said pretty clearly that it was the police officers he was afraid of not armed students.

    So guns on campus would increase change of accidental discharge, gun violence, and possibly gun inflicted suicides. While not greatly improving are perceived or actual ability to defend against a school shooter.

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