After Ohio lawmakers passed a bill allowing the concealed carry of a firearm on college campuses last month, some Ohio University students told Graduate Student Senate members they supported having firearms on campus for students to better defend themselves.
Graduate Student Senate held an open forum Tuesday night allowing students to respond to the bill, which stipulates that permit holders can carry firearms only if the university’s board of trustees allows it. Students shared their thoughts about concealed carry by speaking in front of the group for 90 seconds before returning to their seats.
Several students, both graduate and undergraduate, were in favor of allowing the concealed carry of a firearm on campus. Their reasons ranged from self-defense to the idea that if they could have their guns everywhere else they should be allowed to have them on a college campus.
“There have definitely been times where I’ve been afraid on campus,” Emma Kessler, the president of the Second Amendment Club, said. “I’ve been seriously concerned about what was going to happen to me, and I don’t understand why I should not be allowed to protect myself.”
David Parkhill, president of OU College Republicans, said allowing students to carry concealed firearms could allow students to defend themselves in the case of a shooter on campus.
Other students, including some teaching assistants, were concerned about allowing guns into a learning environment during critical discussions.
“If we invite weapons onto campus, that will inevitably shut down discussion, and as a place of higher education, that’s our mission,” Susanna Hempstead, a second-year Ph.D. student and TA studying English and literature, said. “If we tell students to bring their guns to campus, that will shut down a lot of students because they won’t feel safe. We have to decide as a university if we want a safe space or bring guns on campus.”
Additionally, those who were against bringing concealed carry to campus brought up the idea that allowing guns in the classroom could lead to blurred regulation over allowing guns in the residence halls. Another repeated point was international students would not be permitted to have guns since they are not U.S. citizens.
“What if I disagree with one of my students and all of the sudden someone points a gun toward me?” Fatma Jabbari, the international graduate student affairs commissioner for GSS, said. “I’m not talking about only myself, I am talking about all our professors and teaching assistants. I might speak for them right now and say they are skeptical about this bill. ... They fear for their lives.”
GSS will compile comments graduate students made during the forum for an official stance on the topic, president Ian Armstrong said.