1870 Mag

Pleading the Second

*editor’s note*

Just a week after this interview took place, Tarak Underiner was the victim of a violent shooting and home invasion. For more information about the case, visit 1870now.com/osu-student-killed-in-shooting/

Buckeyes for Concealed Carry speak out on House Bill 48

Just three weeks after an OSU student carried out an attack on campus grounds, Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law that allows colleges to permit concealed carry on campus.

Believe it or not, this was a total coincidence.

House Bill 48—a measure that, in part, allows campuses to decide whether or not to allow concealed carry holders to wield firearms on their premises—has been on the floor nearly an entire year, since last February to be exact.

The OSU attack certainly energized the discussion of the bill, spurring a flurry of national news stories from the likes of NPR, Vice, CNN, and Fox News. This heated debate, in turn, polarized students and faculty—proponents arguing for their basic right to personal safety, calling themselves “sitting ducks,” while opponents expressed concern about their perceived lack of safety if “guns are everywhere.”

According to Katelin Nealeigh and Tarak Underiner, president and treasurer of Buckeye’s for Concealed Carry, the timing of the attack ultimately altered the inital discourse that was attached to goals of the bill.

“[Since the attack,] a lot of people are concerned that you are either going to be a student vigilante or commit a mass shooting. And that’s not really what we were aiming for at all,” said Underiner. “Statistics show that mass shootings have an insanely small percentage of actually happening. Our club is geared at self-defense, primarily when walking home from class late at night.”

Underiner argues that many students require cheap housing off campus in areas with higher crime rates. While they may not need their weapon while in class, or while eating their lunch, it is a safety measure they would appreciate while making the voyage to and from home, something that Nealeigh and Underiner argue is their basic American right. They expressed frustration that even though the measure passed, President Drake has made no indication that he is willing to change the policies already in place.

“We believe that OSU is overstepping state law,” said Nealeigh. “In the student code of conduct, they state that students or affiliates of the university cannot possess weapons including licensed firearms on the campus even if state law permits it. For example, state law would permit someone to carry their firearm in their car, but the student code of conduct states that you can face disciplinary actions for following state law, up to expulsion.”

A major hurdle for the group is that the fury of rhetoric used created an unrealistic idea of what a concealed carry OSU would actually look like.

“People make a big deal about 18 year olds being on campus with firearms, and that’s not true,” said Nealeigh. “You can not have your CHL until you’re 21. There is an 8 hour class, a minimum of 6 hours in the classroom and a minimum of 2 hours on the range handling the firearms, so there is a good bit of training that goes in. And a lot of CHL holders continue on their training—they don’t just stop there.”

Underliner also points out that only 4% of Ohioans actually have a concealed carry license, debunking the myth that campus would be drowning in guns if Drake decided to allow it.  “If you look at that 4% number, that’s 4% of all Ohioans, not 4% of OSU students. You then have to divide that into college kids then college kids who decided to get their concealed carry. That number is very, very small, so saying campus will be awash with guns is just not true.” The group also pointed out that there hasn’t been once instance of suicide or violence towards a student or teacher by someone with their CHL license. “You just have to look at the statistics that exist. It just doesn’t happen.”

Campus carry is a relatively new phenomenon—with Utah passing the first similar law in 2004—so there isn’t really any substantial evidence that validates the claim that it has no influence on suicide rates. There is a study out of Emory University that claims that 10% college students plan out their suicide, so, accessibility to firearms could increase the chance of this coming to fruition. Some researchers, however, are not convinced that campus carry alone could lead to an increase in suicide rates, claiming that the state’s gun laws should be the most important factor when determining whether or not students should be allowed to posses firearms on campus. And Underiner pointed that age shouldn’t be a disqualifier if it is amended into state law, citing a study by economist and gun rights activist, John Lott. “In 2014, less than .01% of Ohio licenses were revoked, and after breaking down those into age groups, 21 – 25 year olds did not seem to differ from that .01%. So, it would seem, that our age group is no less responsible than anyone else. And that was out of 438,000 licenses.”  Because Ohio State is able to opt-out, the passage of this House Bill 48 essentially changes nothing for the student population. That is why the BFCC are working hard on new legislation that makes it so the university must offer a concealed carry option to students.

“We are currently drafting legislation to submit to the committee in order to get a real campus carry bill passed, so that students can truly have their right to self defense restored,” Underiner said. “Our goal is to have it ready for submission in January.”

To learn more about the Buckeyes for Concealed Carry, visit facebook.com/BuckeyesforConcealedCarry.

Danny Hamen

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