An armed campus is a safe campus

Kevin Cline

The open carry firearm education walk on campus last month was a necessary, albeit controversial, affair. It sparked a discussion on campus that desperately needed to take place.

Students and participants on both sides of this issue are upset with the university’s decision to allow visitors — but not students — to bring firearms on campus.

I find the stance especially disturbing, even more so than my fellow students who are upset for opposing reasons, or think they understand the legality of the topic.

A student on social media said, “This is our home. We deserve to feel safe.”

I completely agree; we do deserve to feel safe, and the firearms education walk was aimed precisely at this goal.

At no point during the walk were students in danger; in fact, the university and its students were significantly safer with dozens of responsibly armed citizens roaming the grounds.

We can all agree that every student deserves to feel safe on campus. I would like to point out that every day I am on campus, I do not feel safe. I feel less safe than I did every day I was in the armed service. I feel less safe than I do at any other place to where I normally travel.

My lack of safety is due to Kent State policies that are in contrast to state and federal laws. My state-sponsored and county-issued concealed carry permit allows me to carry a concealed firearm as a responsible citizen.

The Constitution states, “The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security.”

Why does the federal, state and county government trust me to be armed around my fellow citizens, but my university does not trust me to be armed around my fellow students?

I understand that firearms, on Kent State’s campus especially, are a sore subject. State officers with firearms took four of our fellow students’ lives; it’s important to remember that individuals took those lives, not an unthinking, inanimate object.

While I appreciate and respect all of our police, military and National Guardsmen, they cannot be everywhere all the time. Only we, as individuals, have ultimate responsibility for our own self-defense. Unfortunately, university policy is incongruent with this simple concept, and it hinders us all from providing for our own safety.

No amount of signs, bans, presidential decrees, laws, legislation or otherwise will keep unhinged individuals with evil intentions from hurting others. We can only be prepared for this inevitability. Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that everything will be alright if we don’t take responsibility for our own lives is unacceptable.

University policy must comply with state laws, and students should have the same rights and privileges on campus as they do off campus.

Every day that law-abiding citizens on campus are not allowed the unalienable right to self-defense, our community is put at risk.

The lack of respect for this fundamental right jeopardizes our safety. I expect more from my university.