Plenty of people have shared the horror stories of going to college: winding up with a terrible roommate, showers shared with dozens of people, etc. But nobody is addressing the real horrors. College campuses are common targets for mass murderers. Campuses not only provide a dense population, but most are gun-free zones. How do individuals protect themselves on campus when protection isn’t allowed?
Do Your Campus Research
While looking over the course catalogs and touring the dorm rooms, don’t forget to take your safety into account. Ask about emergency procedures and, if you’re comfortable, bring up the school’s concealed carry policy.
I am fortunate enough to live in North Carolina, a shall-issue state that allows open carry. But I did have to wait until I turned 21 to receive my Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP). Unfortunately, North Carolina law prevents carrying on public and private school campuses unless you are on-duty law enforcement. However, there is one way that I can keep my gun on campus with me … even if it is not on my person. I choose to park on public streets near the campus rather than in school-owned lots.
Know the Rules
My concealed carry class required me to (as everyone who goes through a class worth its salt should) learn the laws of my state. This qualified me to not only own a firearm but also carry, handle and travel with one. With a North Carolina permit, I’m allowed to keep a handgun in my car. This doesn’t mean I can just throw my SIG Sauer P320c into the back seat and go about my business. That would be extremely irresponsible, and the law requires you to secure guns in an area that is not visible. Weapons must also be locked either inside the car or to the vehicle itself. It’s also important to note that these rules only apply to street or public parking. If your campus is a gun-free zone and you park in its lot, you are committing a Class 2 misdemeanor.
The big issue with legally leaving a firearm in your car? What if…
- …an active shooting starts, and my car is located on the other side of campus?
- … someone reports my gun even though it is in my vehicle?
- …a thief steals my gun from my vehicle?
- …I face consequences if I bring my firearm onto campus grounds in the event of a shooting?
These are all valid questions — and I’d be surprised if a responsible concealed carrier didn’t have these questions or run through these scenarios.
Seek Shelter During an Active Shooting
The only advice I can offer if you find yourself in an active-shooter situation without your gun is to get yourself and as many others to safety as possible. Running for your gun is not the answer. Make sure that you, and as many people as you can help, are safe before trying to be a hero.
If you become aware of an active shooter while near your vehicle, I still don’t recommend rushing in. This is obviously a personal choice that will take more consideration than you’ll have time for. Try to think clearly and act responsibly. But also know that there will be legal ramifications if you take your gun into a gun-free zone.
Being a concealed carrier, especially on a college campus, is not always easy — and the rules aren’t always clear. The point I’m trying to make is we changed our lives to become concealed carriers and to protect ourselves, our families and those around us. The decisions that come with it shouldn’t be taken lightly. And while campus laws aren’t making it any easier, you want to be able to protect yourself at school. Understand the laws and the consequences. Be willing to make the right choice.