Run, Hide, Fight: On the ground at Ohio State
This feature appears in the February ‘17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
Will the Ohio State University attack last November lead to meaningful campus-carry legislation in the state and elsewhere in coming years?
When an alleged lone-wolf terrorist ran a car through a crowd of students at Ohio State University late last November, then exited the car and started stabbing students with a butcher knife, an armed campus police officer quickly put a stop to the attack. But most Americans realize that when the chips are down, armed police aren’t always mere seconds away.
We asked Ohio State University law student Madison Gesiotto to share her impressions on the OSU attack and what it might mean for the future of campus carry.
I will never forget the beautiful Monday morning when I saw those three words on my Twitter feed. Coming off a relaxing Thanksgiving break and a win against who we in Ohio like to call “That Team up North,” Buckeye spirits were high. Many students were returning to campus and walking to classes as I drove toward Ohio State’s law school to start my week. However, I never made it to the law school that morning. Instead, I saw those three horrifying words on my Twitter feed—Run, Hide, Fight—and turned my car around to drive off campus to safety.
My campus was under attack. My heart dropped as I imagined the horror being experienced by students outside Watts Hall, the scene of the attack. Texting friends—not only in Watts Hall, but across campus—I anxiously waited for updates and safety confirmations. We have seen attacks like this before in our country. After every attack, my heartfelt thoughts and prayers went out to the victims. But for me, this time was different. This attack was happening right at home, on the campus where I have spent the last seven years of my life.
As the morning progressed and details were released, I could not help but feel angry with Ohio State University. More than a dozen people were hospitalized as a result of this attack, and even more traumatized. We were extremely lucky to have had officer Alan Harujko close by and able to stop the attack very quickly, preventing additional injuries and ultimately the loss of innocent lives. But all I could really think about was the fact that we likely won’t always be so lucky. There will not always be a hero in uniform there to save the day as fast as there was that morning.
Of course, I hope and pray that we never need one. I hope and pray that there is never another attack on any college campus in this country. But the unfortunate reality is that we can never be sure. That’s why it is extremely important that students are able to respond in the event of an attack and protect themselves and those around them—something that students, faculty, staff and visitors at OSU have been prevented from doing.Instead of being prohibited, we should have been empowered from the very beginning to protect ourselves from the terrorists and criminals who wish to do us harm.
I have spent my entire adult life at Ohio State. While serving my state as Miss Ohio USA in 2014, I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science before beginning law school at the university. I have learned, and grown into the woman I am today, on this campus. I have much love for Ohio State, the memories I have here and the lifelong friendships I have developed over the years. Each fall, I enjoy seeing the vibrant faces of entering freshman, and I look forward to the rich opportunities that this campus will provide students for years to come.
But, while I have love for my university, I also value my safety and my rights. I cannot imagine being put in a situation where my life or the life of someone else on my campus is in grave danger with no ability to do anything about it. The fact that law-abiding citizens with concealed-carry permits have not been able to carry on campus is very unsettling, and changes have long been needed.
Instead of being prohibited, we should have been empowered from the very beginning to protect ourselves from terrorists and criminals who wish to do us harm. These individuals do not and will not respect the law, regardless of what anti-gun regulations are put into place on campus. In fact, campuses that have these regulations tend to serve as what I like to call “victim target zones”—areas where law-abiding citizens are left especially vulnerable to attack and unable to legally defend themselves.
Moving forward, I hope that students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and political leaders throughout our nation will stand with me in continuing to push for changes to protect the future of students on this great campus and on other campuses across our great nation. It is my dream to see the safety and rights of those on every campus put first so that we all can be safeguarded in the event of a future attack—and so that we can save our own lives and the lives of others when we don’t have someone like officer Harujko there to save the day.
Madison Gesiotto is set to graduate in May from Ohio State University’s law school. Gesiotto was crowned Miss Ohio in 2014; is a conservative commentator for Fox News, cnn and msnbc; and is also a columnist for The Washington Times. She recently appeared on NRATV’s “CN Live,” where she discussed her views on campus carry with host Colion Noir.