Concealed carry law raises concerns on campus

By Lili Gundersen

Assistant Editor

To Nathan West, concealed carry is like “having a pen in a pocket.” He believes it is his constitutional right to carry a weapon, he told Lumen.

West, is a Viterbo senior business management major, from Laurel, Miss. He and his wife, senior Kate­lyn West-Gies, a sports science ma­jor from Middleton, Wis. are both members of the Army Reserves Of­ficers’ Training Corps (ROTC.) West feels that Viterbo’s weapons policy, which prevents all weapons from campus and campus buildings, will not prevent criminals from par­ticipating in gun-related violence, he said.

Instead, “criminals will know for a fact that no one else in the build­ing is carrying a weapon,” West said.

West believes that the signs out­side of Viterbo’s buildings that pro­hibit firearms “put more liability on Viterbo, and prevent the people in the building of their constitutional right to protect themselves,” West said.

“If you post the signs, then you have to have security in place,” West said. “If someone shoots students and 10 minutes pass before the po­lice respond, the guy with the ammo has already done what he’s going to do.” West says that he has shared his concerns with both Diane Brimmer, vice president of Student Develop­ment, and Dave Pleasants, director of campus safety.

“It surprised me that students have no say in the pol­icy,” West said. “The concealed carry law that was implemented in Wisconsin on Nov. 11, defined Viterbo’s policy more,” Pleasants said in an interview with Lumen. This formalization can be seen on the signs posted outside of every campus building, Pleasants said.

“Now we’ll also be clearer about what constitutes a weapon,” Pleas­ants said. Under Viterbo’s current policy, a box cutter in the mailroom that is used for work, and pep­per spray that is used by a student in self-defense do not constitute a weapon, Pleasants clarified.

Campus security is not armed with a weapon, other than pepper spray. The primary responder is the La Crosse Police department, Pleas­ants said. “It’s the law and we’re just supporting the law. We’re just doing what we always have done.”

Keith Knutson, Viterbo associ­ate professor of history, is opposed to Wisconsin’s concealed carry law.

“My view is that concealed car­ry creates more problems than it solves,” he said in an interview with Lumen.

“I’m not a gun-oriented person,” Knutson said. “I would prefer to only have our law enforcement agents be weaponized. I would like a policy that would get weapons out of criminals’ hands.”

Knutson believes that the second amendment addresses the militia’s right to be weaponized, not indi­viduals, he said.

“We’re misguided on the notion that we need weapons to maintain our system of government. I think we should rely on our political sys­tem,” Knutson said. “We need to strengthen our government and its ability to regulate violent crime.”

In response to Knutson’s inter­pretation of the second amendment, West said, “The militia is made up of individuals.”

“We have had concealed carry for years, but it was the criminals who had no respect for the law that car­ried the guns,” said West-Gies. “Not just anyone can get a concealed carry permit. There is a background check and you must show proof of firearms training.”

West-Gies likens concealed carry to wearing a seatbelt; it’s there to protect you when you need it, she said. “It’s concealed,” West-Gies said, “Nobody sees it. No one’s scared.”

West-Gies’s uncle was present during the 2009 Fort Hood Army base, Texas shooting, she said.

Twelve people were killed and 31 were wounded. “My uncle is a lieu­tenant colonel in the Signal Corps,” West-Gies said. “He was there for pre-deployment training at the time. One of the people he met with that morning was a victim of the shoot­ing later that day.”

West-Gies said that the military base had to wait for police to re­spond to the attack.

“Someone asked me, ‘Why do you want to carry a gun?’ West-Gies said. “I replied, ‘Well, why do you wear a seat-belt?’ Them: ‘I wear a seat-belt because, should I get into an accident, it could save my life.’ Me: ‘The likelihood of you getting into a life-threatening accident isn’t

very high, but you still wear a seat-belt just in case.” “That’s why I carry,” West-Gies said. “Should I ever be in a situation where my life or the lives of others around me are threatened — God forbid — my weapon could save my life and others.”

Both West and West-Giese see a disconnect in the policy, they said.

According to the Wisconsin concealed carry law, 45 days were granted as the waiting period to re­ceive a license.

“We know individuals who re­ceived their license as early as 21 days,” West-Gies said. “When the law was first implemented, people who had out-of-state concealed carry permits were able to carry Nov. 1, whereas Wisconsin residents weren’t allowed to fill out and sub­mit applications until Nov. 1. This meant that non-residents were able to exercise their right to carry con­cealed in Wisconsin before the Wis­consin residents were able to.”

To deal with these inconsistencies, “ideally the nation would make con­cealed carry a federal law,” West-Gies said.

In theory, “concealed carry in­creases the cost associated with committing a crime,” A.J. Myer, as­sociate professor of criminal justice, told Lumen.

“The logic of deterrence is that people who commit crimes weigh the benefits of the crime versus the cost of committing the crime,” Myer said. When members of the commu­nity are carrying a weapon, this po­tentially makes the cost of someone committing a crime higher.

“If a person wants to burglarize your house and there’s a chance that you might have a gun, the cost of being shot could deter the burglar from committing the crime,” Myer said.

“People tend to think the worst about crime,” Myer said. “Some people think concealed carry laws are an overreaction.”

“What researchers have found is that places that have put into effect concealed carry laws tend to have increased murder rates, but there’s no conclusive data to say exactly why this is,” Myer said.

“One thought is that the more weapons there are out there, the more crimes occur,” Myer said.

The deterrence theory could also account for the higher level of mur­der rates, Myer said. “If I rob you and I assume that you have a gun, I’m more likely to shoot.” “The more sophisticated research shows that concealed carry laws ei­ther have no effect on the crime rate, or the crime rate goes up, but they don’t go down,” Myers said.

In the debate over concealed car­ry, “there’s a lot more to talk about than just crime, such as, ‘Is it a per­son’s constitutional right to carry a weapon?’” Myer said.

There is a “get tough” trend in politics — a brutalization effect, where we actually make things worse,” Myer said.

Due to concealed carry, police kill more people because they are more likely to be carrying a gun, Myer said.

“We intend for the policy to have a good effect, but it doesn’t actu­ally have that good effect. There are some benefits though,” Myer said. “Concealed carry laws increase gun training and the money to get a li­cense can generate revenue for the state.”

“It’s a balancing act,” Myer said. “We need to revisit policies in the future and see if they accomplished what we wanted them to do. With crime we tend to think the harsher we are, the better we are, and that is not usually the case. It’s a very slow process.”

“Guns have so many uses other than killing things,” West said. “Shooting is a skill and a hobby. My wife and I both go to shooting com­petitions,” West said.

For those people who have never been around guns, West and West-Gies have some advice: “Try it. It’s fun and the more comfortable you are with guns, the safer you are. A gun never killed anyone. There al­ways has to be a finger there to pull the trigger.”

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1 Comment

  1. If you have any questions regarding the CWP law or training please contact http://www.e2c.us or 1-866-371-6111 and the Instructors at Equip 2 Conceal will be happy to help you.

    Reply

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