Next week, two major events will take place here and nationwide regarding the gun debate.
A national group, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, is hosting an event in which participants will wear empty holsters to passively protest school policies that disarm students, faculty and staff of colleges and universities. Despite the fact that we are only one campus out of over 300 participating, it refused to conduct the protest on the week of the April anniversary. This is the kind of respect I've come to expect of the organization.
While we believe this message is important to voice, this is about more than just protesting. As such, SCCC at Virginia Tech drafted up plans for an additional activity to coincide, called Firearms Education Week.
The reality is that a lot of people who support the right to carry a firearm for self-defense were once against guns altogether. Because of this, we believe it's important to share the facts and reasoning that have helped us reach this conclusion. Knowledge truly is power, and by hearing all sides of a debate, one can make an educated decision. That is the goal here.
During the course of the week, take notice of people wearing empty holsters. They are simply saying, "I am disarmed by my university, and I do not approve." Feel free to ask why they believe in it, and listen; verbally attacking someone for supporting self-defense makes no sense. Some of our supporters don't even have concealed handgun permits or any desire to carry; they just respect others' right to. This is expected, as only about 2 percent of Virginians have such permits, but 73 percent of Americans believe that citizens have the right to own a gun. Your input is requested. Over the course of the week, SCCC will share information about concealed carry on campus and then open a survey for your vote on the issue. Along with the vote will be a quiz, highlighting key facts. Survey results will be reported along with quiz results, to compare both the knowledge and the opinion of the topic.
To start, I will share the basics of what we advocate. SCCC seeks to allow state-licensed permit holders to carry concealed firearms for self-defense on college grounds. State-licensed in Virginia means that they are 21 years of age, have successfully completed training and have passed an extensive background check. Concealed carry, versus visible or open carry, is advocated out of respect for the educational environment as we recognize the sight of a firearm may be distracting. Self-defense means defense of imminent threat to life, only; using a weapon for any other purpose will result in arrest. Finally, the same people who wish to carry when they are on-campus already carry every day when they are off-campus. The organization does not wish to arm every student nor increase the number of permit holders, only to extend the rights of those who already own and carry a firearm for self-defense.
For more information or to join the organization or events go to www.sccc.org.vt.edu.