Great news on the campus carry front: Cedarville University in Ohio has authorized those who have permits to carry concealed weapons to carry them on campus. Cedarville is the very first higher education institution to institute such a policy in the state of Ohio—the new rule takes effect in August, just in time for the fall 2017 semester. This is great news for advocates of freedom and safety, as it makes one campus where students can rest easy in class knowing that an active shooter situation is far less likely to occur, as the campus “gun-free zone” will no longer exist. This is a great move for parents looking for safer higher educational options for their children, since gun-free zone signs act as an invitation to assailants because the environment is safe for them.
Cedarville is a small Christian University with about 3,000 students, located 27 miles outside of Dayton. Cedarville calls itself a “safe campus” with very few incidents of violence reported over the 2013-2015 time frame. Still, when the university board of trustees and administration conducted surveys to take stock of student opinion before taking the bold step to do away with restrictions on law-abiding citizens carrying firearms on campus, they found the students were in support of the proposed change.
Ohio Senate Bill 199 offered the means for universities to pass campus concealed-carry rules.Ohio Senate Bill 199 offered the means for universities to pass campus concealed-carry rules. The bill reads, in part, “to modify the prohibition against carrying a concealed handgun onto institutions of higher education, day-care facilities, aircraft, certain government facilities, public areas of airport terminals, and school safety zones.” It was passed and signed into law last December by Gov. John Kasich.
Cedarville administrators utilized campus-carry guidelines already in effect at Liberty University in Virginia and other colleges in Arizona, Texas and Kansas to frame their policy. While Liberty University is also a private Christian university, its student body is far larger, comprising 50,000 students. Cedarville administrators felt Liberty’s policy demonstrated a safe way to get campus carry implemented, and Cedarville President Thomas White said he saw creating the new policy as routine. “It’s not like we’re doing something new that nobody else has ever done,” he said. “We’ll be following behind a whole lot of other people.” It’s heartening that White simply sees the move as a matter of good policy.
When news of the change became public, administrators at some other universities in Ohio voiced opposition to the change. That’s a sad development for students looking for safer educational options in the state. However, administrators at Wright State are reconsidering that university’s strong stance against carrying firearms on campus and plans to seek input on the issue from their student body in the near future. This is a sensible move, since Cedarville's policies aren't actually arming anyone who isn't already allowed to legally carry a firearm. Because a concealed-carry permit is required in order to carry a concealed firearm on Cedarville’s campus, in reality the measure simply expands the list of places in which law-abiding citizens may protect themselves.
While naysayers and campus-carry detractors believe Cedarville’s change was ill-advised, in reality they have no firm ground on which to base their objections.Board of Trustees chairman Reverend Chip Bernhard supports the move, saying in a prepared statement, “We believed it was important to allow our conscientious faculty and staff to have the opportunity to exercise their Second Amendment rights, and, if necessary, to defend themselves should an incident arise in the future. It is our prayer, of course, that no one is ever forced to take this type of action.” The university’s safety policy is “run, hide, fight,” indicating that the use of firearms for self-defense is considered a last-resort type of action to be used only to protect oneself or others. This sentiment follows the prevailing thought of most gun owners: The Second Amendment is a right enshrined in the Constitution—one that we hope never to have to use.
While naysayers and campus-carry detractors believe Cedarville’s change was ill-advised, in reality they have no firm ground on which to base their objections. A recent study titled Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States 2016 reported that carry permit holders have a lower rate of criminality than even law enforcement officers. Having more law-abiding people on campus empowered to lawfully carry a concealed firearm if they choose to is a smart move for other universities to consider.
Stacy Washington is a decorated Air Force veteran, Emmy-nominated TV personality and host of nationally syndicated radio program “Stacy on the Right,” based in St. Louis. She loves God, guns, and is a member of the NRA, obviously.