N.Y. State College Students Need Gun Rights, Too

State University of New York at Buffalo police cars parked at the school’s main campus.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution was established to prevent the government from infringing upon citizens’ rights to “keep and bear arms”. However, it comes as no surprise that, in an era of nanny state empowerment, this right has been significantly diminished – and unjustifiably so.

The Second Amendment is unique to the Bill of Rights because it entitles the American public to something tangible; a firearm is a physical manifestation of self-defense.

This fact was affirmed in the 2008 landmark case, District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court ruled, for the first time in American juris prudence, that the Second Amendment does, in fact, guarantee individuals the right to possess firearms as a means of self-defense.

If this is the case, why am I threatened with expulsion and punishment under New York State law if I carry a handgun to defend myself – should the need arise – on my college campus?

John Velleco, director of federal affairs for Guns Owners for America, said banning firearms from campuses expose students to greater danger. “All too often, so-called gun-free zones such as college campuses are turned into criminal-safe zones, where the only person armed is the attacker.”

Velleco said, “Laws preventing adult concealed carry permit holders from carrying on campus virtually guarantee that an attack will turn into a multiple victim shooting, as was the case at Virginia Tech in 2007 and the University of Illinois in 2009.”

The State University of New York University-Wide Regulations, which act in accordance with New York State Codes, Rules and Regulations, state in S. 590.3 that, “a chief administrative officer may grant authorization for the possession of firearms, rifles, airguns or shotguns only if such possession is required or permitted for specifically authorized: (1) educational program; (2) scientific research; (3) skeet, trap, or other target shooting activities carrie[d] on under the supervision of the university; or (4) for the storage of sporting arms.”

Specific to my school, the University at Buffalo Maintenance of Public Order goes into even greater detail in S. 536.6: “No person … shall possess and carry, on any grounds or in any building of the university, an airgun, or other instrument or weapon in which the propelling force is air, knife, dirk, stiletto, sabre, cudgel, bludgeon, club, slingshot or other thing adaptable to the purpose of a weapon.”

SUNY does not allow its students to carry weapons in self-defense on any of its 64 campuses across the state.

This amounts to more than 400,000 students and nearly 90,000 employees who have no real, material means of defending themselves while on a SUNY campus. This is a problem.
New York State allows residents 21 years of age and older to apply for concealed carry permits. Permits are granted to individuals pending a screening during which individuals must prove themselves to be of good moral character and free from any serious criminal offenses.
Applicants must also disclose if and when they have ever been treated for mental illness.

In other words, the state handpicks those individuals it sees fit to have a concealed carry permit.

In the state of New York, buildings and grounds used for educational purposes are the only areas where concealed carry permits have no bearing.

This begs the question: Why are campuses the only places in the state of New York where one cannot carry a concealed weapon, regardless of whether he or she has a permit to do so?

Chief Gerald W. Schoenle Jr., who heads the University at Buffalo campus police, said, “The idea of permitting concealed weapons on a college campus would be a public safety risk to our campus community.”

Schoenle said, “There is no credible evidence to support carrying concealed weapons on campus would make our college campuses safer.”

John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, said he disagrees with Schoenle and others who oppose concealed carry on campus.

“We don’t need to speculate about what might happen if we allowed permitted faculty and students to carry concealed handguns on college campuses,” Lott said. “We actually already have a lot of evidence and experience from numerous campuses,” he said.

“Seventy-one college campuses allow students with permits to carry concealed handguns. But none – absolutely none – of these schools have experienced the type of harm predicted by opponents. Not a single permit holder on these campuses has been involved in a firearm accident or crime,” he said.

Lott said he also found that permit holders have succeeded in stopping a wide range of multiple victim public shootings, at schools and elsewhere.

Given the data, it is foolish and irresponsible to ban handguns from campuses – not to mention, an overreach of state power.

The media depicts guns on college campuses as tools of unwarranted homicide and violence.
We rarely hear about when guns prevent or stop murderous behavior, nor do we hear about when having a firearm in a gun-free zone such as a college campus could have prevented an attack.

The media has falsely led the public to believe that a few isolated incidents involving psychopaths are reflective of all situations where guns may be present.

The people who are at risk are not the armed police officers who advocate for handgun bans on college campuses, but the students who are helpless to defend themselves.


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