Arm Lane’s first-line defenders

Late last month, Lane Public Safety officers conducted a drill in Building 30, gauging how the campus community would behave during a shooting spree. You would think the first order of business for Public Safety officers would be to shoot back. The problem with that is they’re not allowed to carry guns.

It’s a common debate that has been going on for years. Should students be allowed to carry firearms? Should faculty be allowed to carry firearms, especially if their students are permitted to do the same? And if Public Safety exists to protect students and faculty, shouldn’t they be able to carry a firearm as well?

According to Lane policy, no employees may bring, possess, conceal, brandish, use or be in possession of a firearm under the jurisdiction or sponsorship of the college while they’re on the clock. Therefore, Public Safety cannot carry guns while on duty.

The Torch believes Public Safety officers should be allowed to carry firearms while on duty. They may never need them. All of the Public Safety officers have been trained in offensive and defensive tactics. But what about the one time they should need a gun? If a violent person is on campus, Public Safety will have to call the Lane County Sheriff’s Office for back up. You do the math. We’re on the fringe of the city limits, and the Lane County Sheriff’s Office responds to a large area. In the time it would take them to get here, Public Safety could potentially contain the situation.

In Idaho, a bill was passed on March 6 that allows students to carry firearms on campus. This bill inspired Greg Hampikian, a biology and criminal justice professor at Boise State University, to write an open letter to the Idaho State Legislature, which was published in the New York Times under the headline “When may I shoot a student?”

In his sarcastic and semi-snarky letter, Hampikian asks, “If two armed students are arguing over who should be served next at the coffee bar and I sense escalating hostility, should I aim for the legs and remind them of the campus Shared-Values Statement ?” The fact is, whether we like it or not, there are students on our campus who carry firearms. As of Aug. 21, 2013, no private or public university, college or community college in Oregon permits weapons inside of buildings. However, according to the Oregon concealed-carry license, the restriction of possessing a firearm in a public building, which includes college and university campuses, does not apply to those that are licensed under Oregon law to carry concealed weapons.

Is it a constitutional right for one to possess a gun? Yes. But if that is the case, those protecting us should be able to as well. The only way to make this happen is by changing the school policy to permit Public Safety to carry firearms.

This change begins with students. We must urge the Lane Board of Education to adopt a new policy allowing our Public Safety officers to protect both the Lane community and themselves.