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The Importance of Concealed Carry on Campus

I have been a college professor since 1988 and have always been aware of the vulnerability of college students — particularly female college students — to criminal attack. For a number of years, I taught women’s self-defense classes at my college to try to do what I could to prepare women to protect themselves. It wasn’t until 2004 that the ultimate self-defense tool became available to the citizens of Ohio: the lawful carry of concealed handguns in public.

It took Ohio a while to get around to it. Every state surrounding Ohio — Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky — all had shall-issue-type permits in place well before Ohio and had long proved that not only would violent crime not increase, it would in fact decrease once law-abiding citizens in their states were “permitted” to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights. It was funny that even though facts existed to the contrary all across the United States, certain law enforcement “experts” and officials in Ohio claimed that “blood would be running in the streets” of Columbus and other cities all over Ohio as the new wave of concealed carry permit holders would certainly be gunning down everyone in the streets. I even bought a new set of galoshes (remember those?) to use for walking through all that blood. Odd — I have never had to use them since citizens in Ohio were no different than citizens in any of the other permit states.

Our Ohio law was really flawed initially. Instead of simply copying laws from Florida or Arizona that had already been long proven, Ohio decided to reinvent the wheel. One of the off-the-wall provisions actually required that any lawfully concealed firearm had to be kept in plain sight while in a motor vehicle. Yes, that is quoting from the law. A bunch of “officials” got together to make suggestions on how one was to comply with the law. One female “expert” suggested that permit holders could get holsters to wear around their necks so that approaching law enforcement officers could see their guns when they approached. Again, no joke.

Most of the problem areas in Ohio’s CCW law have been addressed and remedied, with one glaring exception: the ability to carry your lawfully permitted handgun on college campuses.

I have been approached by students and other faculty over the years concerning the issue of carrying concealed handguns on campus, especially when I taught at The Ohio State University. The areas surrounding OSU and the college I currently teach for are in the high crime urban center of Columbus — unlike the college in the town in which I reside. The fear of assault on campus in unattended parking lots — and on the periphery of the college — is totally justified, to the point that when I am asked about carrying on campus in spite of the law, I tell students that they have to make that choice themselves and, if they choose to carry on campus, to do so carefully and discreetly (while being fully cognizant of the possible legal consequences).

An incident this week, and one back in November of last year, emphasizes the need for not only the Ohio Statehouse (which has a campus concealed carry bill pending) but state governments around the U.S. to allow permitted carry on all college campuses.

In November, a radical terrorist ran his car into a group of students and faculty outside of Watts Hall on the Ohio State University campus after a fire alarm had been pulled. After colliding with students, he jumped out of his car and began slashing them with a large knife. He was shot and killed by an OSU police officer, but not until seven people were injured — one critically. Everyone at the scene was defenseless except for the terrorist and the police officer, who clearly saved lives.

This week, 21-year-old OSU student Reagan Tokes was kidnapped, raped and murdered after she left her waitressing job at a bar in the upscale Short North area of Columbus — which is south of OSU proper. Reagan was a psychology major who was loved by family and friends and anyone who knew her. Just knowing that she worked a difficult job as a waitress to help support herself while going to school —  instead of just accepting money from home — suggests what a great young lady she was. She was clearly full of potential and wanted to help others, and was the type of student I enjoyed having in my Sociology classes at OSU.

Reagan’s young life was cut short by a man who had been convicted in May 2011 for a 2010 rape and robbery. The judge in the case, Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Frye, sentenced the criminal to a whopping six (6) years in prison for a crime that at one time in this nation was a capital offense. Yes indeed, you could have been executed for rape back in the day.

The perp was released from prison on November 13, 2016 for his heinous previous crime, obviously not rehabilitated. It took him two and a half months to commit one even worse.

He apparently selected Reagan at random — you know, the old “wrong place at the wrong time” scenario, which actually means Reagan was leaving work alone, heading to her car late at night in a secluded location and appeared vulnerable to the predator who was lying in wait.

Even though the abduction, rape and murder did not occur on the OSU campus, it is quite possible that the “no guns” signs, combined with the anti-gun harangues of liberal professors, prevented Reagan from ever considering owning and carrying a firearm. It is also possible that due to her outgoing and kind nature, she may have never thought she needed one. We will never know.

Whatever Reagan’s situation was, I want students, faculty and staff of colleges to at least have the chance to make the decision of whether or not to carry a firearm on campus. I am sickened by judges who turn violent criminals free with a literal slap on the wrist. I hope Judge Frye is happy with the sentence he handed down, because he [Frye] and Reagan’s family and friends now have to live with it. I had thought the sentencing reforms put in place in Ohio in the 1990s had done away with this lenient sentencing of violent offenders, but I was wrong.

The world needs more people like Reagan, who could have made a positive impact in the lives of so many other people who will now never know her. We need judges who will recognize the violent nature of the crime of rape, and the fact that rapists frequently turn to murder when the thrill of sexually assaulting people begins to wane.

Please support measures to allow campus carry in your state, and make sure that your loved ones who attend or work at colleges are prepared to meet people like Golsby and Ratan, who are not prevented by the criminal justice system from committing their crimes. The time for lawfully concealed handguns on college campuses is here.

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