Under the right circumstances, armed students and faculty could save lives by neutralizing active shooters.
By James Copenhaver
A major force behind the push to ease restrictions on guns on campus is an organization called Students for Concealed Carry. Started in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings, the organization has grown to include chapters across the country, and it lobbies state lawmakers and school officials to allow people with proper permits to carry guns on campus.
David Burnett, the group’s national spokesman and also a nursing student at the University of Kentucky, said he believes anyone who is responsible, law-abiding and trained should carry a gun. “If criminals knew that, they’d be more hesitant to attack”.
So the question is, should college students and staff be permitted to pack a loaded gun while on a college campus? I must say that in my 25 years as a Deputy Sheriff and an operator in the undercover community, I am just not sure if this is the answer.
As a cop I have responded to more “shots fired” calls than I sometimes wish to remember, Yes some were just someone blowing of steam and sometimes not still armed once I arrived on scene. But a few times, the person was not only armed, but also firing bullets at anything they could see.
Once, while I was assigned to uniform patrol,l I respond to a shots fired call. Upon arrival, I learned real fast that this call was for real and could hear many shots being fired from within a single wide mobile home, which was located in a local trailer park.
It was dark with little lightning at around 1:30 in the morning. I approached the trailer with much caution, until my backup partners arrive. While sneaking up to the area I hear 3 or 4 shots and immediately heard the bullets striking nearby trailers.
This case turned out with no persons injured and the suspect detained.
Now, in the case of the past carnage at our college campuses across the nation, what are the pros and cons of students being armed?
If an individual arrived on campus and began discharging a firearm in an effort to harm himself or others, an armed, properly trained and permitted student could save many lives.
Keeping in mind, that most of the past killers on our college campuses had the same mission…which was to take out and kill as many people possible.
It seems that almost every college in America now has a policy regarding on-campus active shooters. In most, if not all school policies, every classroom is closed and locked upon learning of an active shooter on campus. In this case I believe a student who is legally permitted to possess a firearm on campus would be at least able to protect him or herself and fellow students/faculty in the classroom.
My concern is the amount of training required to not only safely carry a loaded weapon, but also the training and knowledge to engage an armed active shooter. I am not convinced that Florida state requirements prepares anyone to either engage or fight off an active shooter.
If the proper training and requirements were met, I certainly thinks it’s a great idea to allow legal firearms to be carried by students and staff while on campus. I would hope our lawmakers when crafting such a bill, would include additional training for these students. I would even suggest, that before students are permitted to carry on campus, that the campus police would be required to inspect the firearm and have a mandatory training class with these students.
As a side note, a family friend who owns a local harmacy in Pinch, WV was recently a victim of an armed robber.
The robbery occurred about 9:45AM last week at the Good Pharmacy on North Pinch Road, according to a news release from the sheriff’s department. Deputies said a masked male suspect entered the pharmacy and pointed a firearm at the staff. The pharmacist on duty pulled his own firearm that he was carrying concealed and fired the weapon at the suspect. The suspect was struck and fell onto the pharmacy floor. Staff at the pharmacy then began to perform lifesaving measures on the suspect.
The suspect was transported to Charleston Area Medical Center General Hospital where he was taken into surgery. The suspect did succumb to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
You’ll note something in this story…I hope. Those who spend their time and money to become proficient at self-defense pistol-craft tend to be hard-working professionals with a strong sense of family and community, who desire nothing more than to keep others safe from the human predators that walk among us. They have no desire to hurt others, and only pull their weapons to save the lives of the good people in their homes, places of business, and community.
After shooting this suspect twice, the pharmacist didn’t attempt to finish off the suspect, nor did he or the staff stand around and watch him die. As soon as the robber was no longer a threat, the staff called 911 and began attempting emergency medical procedures in an attempt to save the robber’s life.
On the one hand, we have a violent predator who was attempting to take either cash or drugs (or both) through violent criminal acts. He was threatening to end the lives of innocent people for a small amount of money or a temporary narcotic high.
This pharmacist took the inherent risk of going for his own weapon and making himself a target, in hopes of saving the lives of the other people in the store.
Once the robber dropped to the floor and ceased being a threat, the people who had just had their lives threatened over nothing, shrugged off their shock and fear and resentment in order to attempt to save a human life, because they felt it was the right thing to do.
Although this latest public shooting was not on a school campus, it shows and proves that good people are winning and surviving the violence that is taking place in every city in our country.
I’m not advocating that we need to have a western shootout mentality, but we need to afford our students and citizens the right to protect themselves and others in situations where waiting on a law enforcement response is not an option.
Mr. Copenhaver has over 25 years of experience in law enforcement, having served as an undercover officer in the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation – and also working in the Robbery, Homicide & Sex Crimes units. James has conducted investigations with the F.B.I. Special Task Force & United States Marshall Service. He now runs his own private investigation & security firm and appears regularly on CNN, HLN, Fox35, CF News 13 to provide expert commentary on current events. You can contact him by visiting his website, myfloridapi.com