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Raw DS Article: My Thoughts on Concealed Carry on-Campus

February 3, 2009

My name is Martin Rottler, and I am a byproduct of the generation that experienced the effects of the shooting at Columbine High School firsthand. In 1999, I was a sixth grader at a middle school 25 minutes from the violence and horror. I remember the announcement from the principal that afternoon, the partial lockdown that followed, and on the day after even being escorted to the bathroom by a security guard in fear of a copycat shooting at my school. Even in a large city such as Denver, nearly everyone had a connection to someone at the school. My cousin competed against one of the victims in speech & debate. A realtor in my parents’ office had a stepson that was paralyzed in the shooting. To this day, people from Denver (including myself) who were witness to what happened on April 20th, 1999 react differently to school shootings. Perhaps it is because the sights and sounds on TV reignite the same emotions and helplessness we felt during that time, or because we know what it is like for a community to experience such awful trauma.

The recent debate and issues brought up regarding the ability for students to carry concealed weapons on UND’s campus recently caused me to go back and think through my feelings regarding safety and security on campus. My secondary experiences dealing with school shootings in addition to my own background research have led me to this conclusion: concealed weapons have no place on this campus.

UND sophomore Tony Bowers was quoted in a recent Grand Forks Herald article as saying “History has shown us that gun-free zones basically mean defense-free zones.” What historical event in the past ten years has shown us anything of the like? Concealed carry supporters cite Virginia Tech as the prime example of how, had a student or professor been armed, one shot would have stopped Seung-Hi Cho before he continued his massacre on that campus. While this may be the case in a perfect world, the line of thought held by those of this opinion places innocent victims at very high risk—one that I don’t want to take in a classroom or crowded place at UND. What, if any, tactical training do those who carry concealed weapons undergo? Does it mirror the same training our campus and city police officers undergo? Would anyone who supports this bill be able to concretely say that they would be able to tell the difference during a shooting between the shooter and an innocent person like me or my classmates? Read the accounts or watch surveillance video of any number of violent acts and you’ll see that the situation turns chaotic in a manner of seconds. Are we able to trust that our 18-22 year old classmates with little training outside of a concealed carry class will place the perfect shot and not hit anyone else?

The concept of students at UND being “defenseless” against school violence lacks any semblance of reality whatsoever. We are lucky enough to have a police force that can reach anywhere on-campus within a matter of minutes. In all reality, my backpack containing my laptop and five textbooks for my graduate school class or my Nalgene bottle filled with water could do just as well at stopping a school shooter. I have had the opportunity to both work and attend school in gun-free workplaces and can say that I have never felt defenseless or unsafe in either. I have also been to places where even police officers don’t carry weapons (England as well as the tourist and transit police in Colombia) and haven’t felled any less safe without them.

It is imperative to note that I fully support the right of people to own a gun if they so choose. If anything, the last five years I have spent living in North Dakota have opened my eyes to the sport of hunting and the hobby of gun collecting. While I continue to choose not to purchase or own a gun, I don’t want to make that choice for others. In the same right, for the safety of all UND students, the prohibition of concealed weapons on-campus needs to be continued. I don’t want to see anyone I know and care about here fall victim to an errant shot from a would-be “hero.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 3, 2009 10:10 am

    While I can appreciate Mr. Rottler’s experience with having connections to one of the most tragic school shootings in the country I must offer another point of view. I am and have been a firearms instructor for more than 20 years; I have a law enforcement back ground and travel around the country training police officers. When you look at the numbers behind law enforcement shooting you will learn that somewhere between 70-80% of law enforcement shootings result in no one being injured that is because most law enforcement do not continue to “train” with firearms but rather qualify. I do understand Mr. Rottler’s concern, but “gun free” zones are not safe in fact schools in general are not safe with more than 1.5 million assaults occurring on campus every year. Law enforcement will not save you, they will get there but as most of these cases have shown not in time to stop the shooter or save lives, the law enforcement community will tell you that they have become very good at drawing chalk lines around the bodies.
    What is the answer, is the not the extremes but rather somewhere in the middle.

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