Self-defense is biggest issue for gun protesters

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

A group of SDSU students will display their support for concealed weapons on campus from April 21 to 25.

Approximately 12 students will wear empty holsters throughout their daily routines to show their support for allowing people to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, said Ian Odle, a senior political science major and the campus leader for the protest.

“The purpose is to show people that responsible adults are defenseless on college campuses,” said Odle. “People that have concealed permits can carry in movie theaters and Wal-Mart ? for their own self defense.”

SDSU’s protest is part of a national movement, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC), which has over 28,500 members. This is the second Empty Holster Protest, and this year, the national protest on about 350 colleges campuses will place “greater emphasis on educating the uninformed,” said the SCCC Web site.

The purpose of the national movement is to “protest state laws and school policies that stack the odds in favor of dangerous criminals and armed killers by disarming law-abiding citizens licensed to carry concealed handguns virtually everywhere else,” said the Web site.

The protesters are asked to keep their holster flaps open and their holster empty of anything, including ammunition or toy guns. Throughout the protest, the students are not to interrupt the routine of academic instruction, hand out flyers or talk about the issue in classes or meetings, said Marysz Rames, vice president of Student Affairs.

The protesters can distribute flyers in open areas, but Rames said she thought the SDSU protesters would only wear the holsters and t-shirts.

Odle said he believes students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus for self-defense purposes, and he also said that historically, violence on college campuses has happened in gun-free zones.

Colorado State University, Blue Ridge Community College (Weyers Cave, Va.), and all nine public colleges in the state of Utah allow concealed weapons on campus. According to the SCCC Web site, “After a combined total of more than sixty semesters of allowing concealed carry on campus, none of these schools have seen any resulting incidents of gun violence, gun accidents or gun theft.”

Another reason to support allowing concealed weapons and other guns on campus is the culture of South Dakota as a hunting state, said Odle, who first read about the protest in a National Rifle Association publication.

“For South Dakota, it makes a lot of sense,” he said.

Since having guns of any type on campus is a hot issue, protesters were told that they should expect students who have different opinions than their own to push back.

Some of those students who do not want guns on campus are Kimberly Graff and Becky Garton.

“I don’t oppose self-defense ? but I think we will run into problems with people who are influenced by alcohol,” said Graff, a freshman English education major. “It does happen, whether it’s sooner or later, and I think it’ll happen where we have guns going off and accidental shootings.”

Garton, a freshman graphic design major, agreed. “Anything can happen so unexpectedly, and it could be a person that you would never expect,” she said. “It would make me feel a lot more uncomfortable walking on campus, especially at night.”

Despite differing opinions on campus, the protest is positive overall, said Rames. “It’s a positive protest to allow students to voice their opinion.”