Concealed carry group attempts to form in order to advocate, educate
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The concealed carry protest organized by the Community Psychology Association on February 7th was counterproductive, said at-large SGA senator Cale Ostby.
“I thought the protest was counterproductive because the signs being held didn’t relate to campus carry,” Ostby said. “(The signs) said, ‘disarm hate,’ on a rainbow, and nothing about campus carry is hateful.
“I would encourage any person who can handle the responsibility and respects the law to carry for their own protection.”
Ostby, together with the SGA Veterans senator Dan Corrieri, said he is working to create a group on campus called Students for Concealed Carry to prepare the campus for July 1, 2017, when concealed handguns will be allowed in buildings and classrooms on campus.
“[We’re doing this] in order to really push for people who are considering carrying on campus to feel safe about it,” Ostby said.
Despite an SGA resolution in November and state lawmakers attempts to delay or exempt some health care facilities and universities from the Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act, nothing definitive has been done to stop the proposal to become law.
“We’re trying to bring the group here before (July),” Ostby said.
The Students for Concealed Carry website describes the organization as “a student-run, national, non-partisan organization which advocates for legal concealed carry on campuses in the United States as an effective means of self-defense.”
Ostby said the organization intends to advocate and distribute statistics about concealed carrying on campuses.
“I think for a lot of people that don’t understand firearms it is a scary thing,” he said. “I can completely understand why people would be apprehensive about it.”
He said their main goal is to help educate people and to let them know that people who concealed carry on campus aren’t a threat.
“We would love to educate and train and talk to people about any concerns they might have,” he said.
“Another reason I’m trying to bring this group to campus is to show people that we’re not gun-waving nuts.”
Corrieri, student body representative for at least 1,000 campus veterans, said nobody is allowed to concealed carry unless they are 21.
“I haven’t heard of (any veteran students) against concealed carry,” Corrieri said. “They’re all for our cause and our organization.
Also, as the law allows concealed carry anywhere on campus except inside a building, said Corrieri.
“I know there are probably people that concealed carry already,” he said.
Student Body President Joseph Shepard said he supports the creation of Students for Concealed Carry on campus.
“The purpose (of the group) is primarily to promote why students feel it is okay to concealed carry,” Shepard said.
Shepard said supporting Students for Concealed Carry is consistent with one of the initiatives he and Student Body Vice President Taben Azad originally ran on, which involved educating the campus about concealed carrying.
“I’m hoping that this organization can educate, empower students and promote a safe atmosphere,” Shepard said, “so that those who want to carry feel empowered, but those who feel uncomfortable still feel safe on campus.”
Corrieri said he doesn’t know if the rest of the student senate knows about their attempts to form Students for Concealed Carry on campus.
Randy Barbour, the organization’s treasurer, helped organize the protest, said he thinks many students will feel uncomfortable once concealed handguns are allowed on campus, but he doesn’t think it’s detrimental to have a group on campus advocating for concealed carry.
“I hope they will use their group to educate students and… present valid reasons why we need concealed carry on college campuses,” Barbour said, “especially when college campuses are among the safest places in our country.
Ostby and Corrieri said they have enough people to start the group—Corrieri said they have about 10 people already—but they haven’t had any luck finding a faculty advisor.
“People aren’t getting back to us or are worried about backlash,” Ostby said.
He said they have contacted the University Police Department, Veterans Affairs, and a few faculty members. Most people just didn’t respond back, he said.
“It feels in some ways like we’re being stonewalled,” Ostby said.
He said he also heard from an unnamed source that when the idea for the concealed carry organization was introduced to the faculty senate, senators laughed.
Until they find a full-time Wichita State University staff or faculty member to be their advisor, Corrieri and Ostby cannot officially form their group, even though they have already been endorsed by the Students for Concealed Carry at the state level.
“This law is going into effect no matter what,” Corrieri said, “ so we’re trying to be proactive about it so that when it does happen people don’t feel threatened.”
Ostby said he thought the “disarm hate” signs used in the concealed carry protest actually helped support an argument for concealed carry.
“I think the signs were aimed at full disarmament as a response to the shooting in Orlando,” Ostby said. “Had anyone in that nightclub been armed, they may have been able to stop the attack, or at least end it much sooner.”