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Armed robbery renews guns on campus debate

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Citizens who have lawfully obtained a handgun carry permit should be permitted to have their weapon on a college campus, according to the MTSU organization Raiders for the Right to Bear Arms.

“It’s time for students, professors and staff to exclaim that we will no longer be defenseless targets on university campuses,” said Derek Mumphery, a member of the student-run group.

Mumphery reiterated why the group believes that students should be able to carry a licensed gun while on a university’s grounds, following an armed robbery Tuesday that occurred outside Scarlett Commons Apartments, an on-campus complex located near the Health, Wellness and Recreation Center.

The suspect is described as being about 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing about 150 pounds, with blonde hair and a full goatee. He was last seen wearing a hoodie and blue jeans, carrying a black backpack and silver handgun, according to the MTSU Office of Public Safety.

The suspect fled before campus police arrived on the scene and the incident remains under investigation.

“We do believe there was an encounter with a victim who was struck and injured, but we do not have all the answers to our questions at this time,” said Buddy Peaster, chief of police for the Office of Public Safety. “We will continue looking into this situation. Not every aspect of the story is really fitting together.”

However, Peaster said campus police are still actively pursuing leads and searching for the suspect.

“It’s unfortunate that in gun-free zones, like the MTSU campus, only criminals have access to firearms,” said Mumphery, who serves as a senator for the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences in the Student Government Association.

“Raiders for the Right to Bear Arms is fighting to allow law-abiding citizens the right to carry on campus in order to protect themselves, in the event an armed gunman attempts to break the law,” he said.

MTSU alumnus Matthew Hurtt, who served as an SGA senator for the College of Liberal Arts, sponsored a resolution in 2007 that would have asked the university’s administration to petition the Tennessee General Assembly to change existing on-campus gun laws.

Although the resolution failed, similar efforts have continued to gain support on campus, most notably through groups like Right to Bear Arms.

“I applaud the organization for raising awareness because I know they are in the early stages of forming the group, and I’m thankful no one was injured,” Hurtt said.

Hurtt said laws imposing gun-free zones adversely affect law-abiding citizens, putting their safety at risk.

“The criminals will break the law anyway,” he said. “If someone wants to rob someone at gunpoint then (that person) will do that without regard to the law.”

Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville sponsored a bill earlier this year that would have allowed university full-time faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons on campus.

In May, it failed to pass through a Senate committee after university officials from across the state lambasted the proposal, including the Association of Campus Law Enforcement.

“We are not proponents of students having mass access to guns on campus,” Peaster said. “There is not a lot of focus on what we can do now to prevent crimes on campus.”

He said the MTSU community should examine what issues contribute to unlawful activities to reach the real goal – crime prevention.

“I am not opposed to responsible gun ownership in general," he said, "but I do have a problem with people overlooking other factors and saying the answer is all about being able to carry a gun.”
Read more from:
Buddy Peaster, Campus Police, Crime, General Assembly, Guns, MTSU, Robbery, Scarlett Commons, Tennessee
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Members Opinions:
November 17, 2011 at 11:17pm
It is unfortunate that laws like this hurt the 'real' citizens. No citizen who uses a gun in a malicious manner should prosper from banning others from carrying a weapon.
November 17, 2011 at 11:23pm
I understand that people want to feel safer on campus but I don’t think allowing students to bring guns on campus will do so. According to the San Francisco-based Legal Community Against Violence, the average person is unequipped to handle a gun especially considering the fact that only six states require any kind of training before issuing a routine permit to own a gun.
In that kind of situation the stress is so intense the average person can’t handle such intense pressure and this opens them up to being attacked just as much as someone who does not have a gun on their person. Also more people owning guns doesn’t mean that people more people are safe. The United States has some of the most lax gun laws in the world but that does not correspond to us having the lowest crime rates in the world.
I don’t think allowing students to have guns will protect people from crime it will just enable more people to get shot. I think the real solution to campus safety is to have more campus security especially in parking lots so people won’t be caught off guard in abandoned lots late at night. I also think they should reinstall the alert polls because without them students are a lot more unsafe.
November 18, 2011 at 8:06am
Banning guns on campus is a common sense rule. There are no facts or statistics that several thousand armed kids would make the campus safer. Quite the contrary. The testerone tigers would end up accidently shooting themselves or some innocent person.
November 18, 2011 at 8:49am
oops- I meant testosterone, and might add that allowing guns on campus may increase robbery and theft as the bad boys would view it as a candy store for guns.
November 18, 2011 at 8:58am
bota -

I'm really curious as to where you have found your assertions to be fact. In states which allow concealed carry on campus, the "blood in the streets" scare tactics of the uninformed just don't come to fruition.

And it wouldn't be "several thousand armed kids" at MTSU or on any campus. The total percentage of permit holders in the state is miniscule. At most, it would be a few hundred, mostly non-traditional (older) students.

And there are facts which prove otherwise. States like Utah currently allow CCW holders to carry on campus and overall campus crime has declined.

Once again, I'm really interested in having an honest discussion about the facts behind concealed carry on university campuses, devoid of the "Wild West"-style fantasies of the anti-gun crowd. Let me know, thanks.
November 22, 2011 at 1:04pm
I agree with HurttPride. Most of the armed students would be non-traditional students. You would not have "kids" on campus that are armed. A person must be at least 21 to apply for a carry permit. Which means at least a junior/senior. Faculty should also be allowed to carry on campus. A good read on the subject is More Guns, Less Crime by John R. Lott. He held a conference at Vanderbilt Univ. in the spring. I think the conference is on youtube also.
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