Disarming the fear of campus carry

By Colleen Miller

I am the editor-in-chief of The Oakland Post and I have a Michigan Concealed Pistol License. It’s a blue card that shares a slot in my wallet with my voter registration.

When I turned 21, the minimum age for the license, it was my choice to take the classes and range test to carry a concealed pistol.

I grew up around firearms. So I knew not to pick up a gun and put my finger on the trigger, and to treat every gun like it’s loaded. But my CPL class taught me a lot about how to prepare for the situation you hope will never arise: firing a gun at a person.

Of course it’s frightening, but I can’t ignore the fact that I’d rather kill an assailant than be raped or murdered, and that those situations are possible.

Nobody forced me to get my license. But I am forced to accept that I have to rely on a pocket knife while I’m on campus. Going to college, however, is not a choice anymore. Even for many of those who proudly make their life’s work here, leaving is just not a choice.

Students, staff and faculty who legally carry pistols elsewhere without you ever knowing (probably a very small portion) should be able to do the same while in a class or walking Oakland University’s campus. Michigan CPL holders can currently carry their concealed pistol in most places, with a few exceptions, including college and university dorms and classrooms.

I can, however, see an argument against keeping guns out of dorms and student apartments. The walls are thin and it’s a student’s elective to live there.

While I appreciate our police department and I generally feel very safe here, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have the right to protect myself before something happens. I’m not of the belief that it’s somebody else’s responsibility or capability to ensure my safety.

There is no doubt about the rise in senseless shootings on college campuses in this country. This is not the time to ignore the fact that these shooters could be deterred by trained citizens carrying weapons.

While not a perfect comparison to our campus community, crime statistics in Washington D.C. show that the city saw the lowest number of homicides since 1964 in the year following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the city’s long-standing handgun ban.

The popular assumption is that removing college dorms and classrooms from the “pistol free zones” will somehow arm all the unstable 19-year-olds in our classrooms and residence halls.

Even some of the most educated people will spew this theory over lunch and giggles, belittling the legitimacy of trying to remove college classrooms from Michigan’s list of “pistol free zones.”

Hopefully the empty holster demonstrations at OU will help break down the fog of misinformation surrounding the proposed legislation in the state Senate to remove these restrictions.

There are plenty of arguments to scare the passive consumers of information into disagreeing with the changes to the law. None of them stand up to case studies, statistics and knowledge of said law.

In a letter to The Post, a psychologist at OU’s counseling center  (read it on oaklandpostonline.com) highlighted some of these misconceptions.

“If EVERYONE is carrying guns, it will be impossible to recognize the bad guys,” he wrote.

Answer: I’m not an expert, but maybe the person brandishing or firing a weapon, making threats, or displaying unusual behavior would normally tip you off. The “bad guys” will carry weapons and a disregard for the law and other people wherever they please.

There isn’t enough ink to dedicate to the misinformation out there. Submit your thoughts and concerns, I would be happy to discuss them with you.

Against tradition, I sign this editorial because I support those demonstrating on campus this week for equal protection opportunity for OU’s armed citizens while they learn and work.

While this demonstration is to influence a state law, the underlying federal principle is the Second Amendment. Journalists, students and free members of society should support the Second as vigilantly as the First.


Colleen J. Miller, Editor-in-Chief ’09-10