Changing gun laws while campus gun club is forming

Julie Riedel

The Ohio Senate’s hearing of Sub. House Bill 48 began on January 27. The bill originally passed in November 2015, allowing concealed carry weapons to be carried for self defense.

Previously, only law enforcement or authorized persons could carry weapons in areas such as day cares, school safety zones, police stations, universities and colleges. H.B. 48 is modifying the laws around concealed carry for individuals with concealed carry license as stated in the Ohio H.B. 48 summary.

Regulations still remain, such as areas in police stations off limits to the public, are excluded from concealed carry. For universities and colleges the rule is that the board of trustees or governing body writes a policy allowing specific individuals or groups to carry on campus. 

H.B. 48 also states that if an individual with a concealed gun is arrested in a prohibited area, and can’t produce an up-to-date concealed carry license within 10 days, the punishment will be a minor misdemeanor with a fine up to $150 dollars.

Currently Kent State University has a strict prohibition of possession, use, or storage of deadly weapons according to university policy 5-12.13. KSU Community Resource Police Officer Tricia Knoles does not see this policy changing and as a result she does not see the safety of students compromised.

Officer Knoles does encourage ALICE classes. “If the topic comes up to, if the possibility of guns on campus or would it be safer… those questions can be asked during the ALICE class if they’re not already presented,” said Officer Knoles. “Take ALICE classes they’ll get you prepared if any emergency should happen on campus involving a dangerous weapon.” 

As Bill 48 is debated in Columbus, a group of KSU students are in the process of forming the Kent State Gun and Shooting Club. The club has between 50 and 80 interested students. The group plans to educate students about gun safety, gun ownership, self-defense, public safety and shooting techniques.

“Since, we are a gun club we do plan on having question and answer sort of things, to where we kind of can touch on those topics (news coverage and local and state gun laws) while being able to be informed and have a better idea, so that we can still have an open discussion,” said Kristoff Haynes, a junior digital sciences major and the President of the Kent State Gun and Shooting Club. 

The Kent State Gun and Shooting Club has no intentions of bringing weapons on campus and will not provide weapons to individuals unable to legally obtain one on their own.

The club hopes to have speakers talk about various weapon and safety related topics. They also plan to visit shooting ranges to create a safe environment to practice shooting.

“We want to get rid of the stigma of guns being bad,” said Bodie Kendall, a sophomore computer science major and the club’s treasurer.

Ideally, they would like to become a competitive team and compete with other universities like The University of Akron.

The Kent State Gun and Shooting Club is looking for an advisor, one of the last steps to become an official club. Together the experiences of the officers include 4-H competitive shooting, National Guard training, concealed carry permit ownership and years of target shooting.