Guns on campus? FAU students push for advocacy group

How do you feel about the story below? I have a vested interest as I have one child attending FAU now and another on the way.

I would like more information and am hoping this is very well thought out before acting either way.

This is a great example of a situation that has many issues, potential problem, potential opportunities, and will need good, informed decisions being made.

This is the type of situation where our processes are employed very well.

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John Schneyer
Boca Consultants

Guns on campus? FAU students push for advocacy group
By KIMBERLY MILLER
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 14, 2008

A chapter of a national gun advocacy group that supports allowing students to carry weapons to class may open at Florida Atlantic University this fall.

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus was created after the April 2007 shootings on the Virginia Tech University campus in Blacksburg, Va., where 32 people and gunman Cho Seung-Hui died.

About the organization

  • Students for Concealed Carry on Campus promotes its cause with several initiatives, including the ’empty holster protest,’ where students, faculty and staff who support allowing guns on campus wear holsters to school. Group leaders said 3,800 students nationwide participated in April’s event.
  • Slogans include ‘Signs can’t stop acts of violence, armed citizens can.’
  • SCCC, in conjunction with the Second Amendment Foundation, held its first national conference Aug. 1 at the National Press Club in Washington. About 100 students attended the meeting, which included a speech by G. Gordon Liddy and a representative of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
  • The group, which now claims 30,000 members in 45 states, believes people with concealed weapons permits should be able to carry handguns to school, as they can to many other public places, as a way to protect themselves and others.

    Two FAU students are spearheading a campaign to start the club on the school’s Boca Raton campus, hoping to garner interest with a grass-roots campaign, including an “empty holster protest” in which students wear gun holsters to school.

    “I’ve always been very much into constitutional rights and gun rights,” said Ryan Faerman, an electrical engineering major at FAU who is working to start the SCCC chapter. “It seems retarded that you can’t protect yourself on an open campus. It’s ridiculous.”

    Faerman, 21, emphasizes he is no “gun nut.” In fact, he doesn’t currently own a gun, though he is going through the process to earn a concealed weapons permit.

    “I’m not some crazy redneck out shooting varmints,” Faerman said. “People think we’re trying to force guns everywhere and it’s going to be a bloodbath, but that’s not the case.”

    SCCC has no office or base but is an organized group, supported partially by the Second Amendment Foundation. It held its first national convention in Washington this month, attracting about 100 students.

    Colleges in most states, including Florida, do not allow students, faculty or staff to carry guns on campus.

    Gun opponents say there is good reason for that.

    “I don’t have a lot of confidence that a college kid with a gun, or any untrained person for that matter, will get into a successful shootout with a bad guy,” said Doug Pennington, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “This is one of the craziest ideas anyone has ever thought of.”

    In Florida, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is authorized to issue licenses to carry concealed weapons to residents 21 and older. To earn a license, a person must show competence with a firearm by completing an approved hunter education or safety course.

    Also, under most circumstances, the person cannot have been committed to a mental institution or have been found guilty or had adjudication withheld on a misdemeanor or felony charge.

    Still, Florida was given just eight points out of a potential 100 for its gun safety laws by the Brady Campaign.

    Pennington said he has special concerns about students with guns on campus.

    “The permit holder might be the All-American kid who has never done anything wrong in his or her life,” he said. “But what if they live in the dorms? The roommate might be a moron.”

    SCCC’s recognition increased following the Valentine’s Day shooting at Northern Illinois University, where five people were killed and 16 injured when a former student opened fire in a lecture hall. The gunman, Steven Kazmierczak, also killed himself.

    Between January and today, SCCC grew from 10,000 to 30,000 members.

    “It’s unfortunate, but when a kid goes on campus and starts shooting, it gives attention to our cause,” said David Burnett, a University of Kentucky student and spokesman for SCCC. “It’s not the type of publicity we want.”

    SCCC says it has members at 650 colleges nationwide, but it’s unclear how many of those groups are officially registered campus clubs.

    Thirteen Florida colleges and universities are listed on the group’s Web site as having members, including Florida State University and the University of Central Florida. FSU has a club called Students for the Second Amendment, but not one with the name Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. UCF does not list an official campus club affiliated with SCCC.

    To start a campus club at FAU, students must fill out an “intent to organize” form that explains the purpose of the group, have at least 10 members and identify a faculty or staff adviser.

    School officials said there is no reason SCCC would be prohibited from forming a club as long as it fulfilled all of the requirements.

    FAU had its own campus shooting in April when a non-student attending a party at the University Village Apartments fired a gun three times during an argument. No one was hit, but the school was on lockdown for several hours.

    Matt Mesang, a 21-year-old FAU student who is working with Faerman to start the chapter of SCCC, said the shooting shows that “gun-free zones” only deter law-abiding citizens.

    Mesang, whose father is a retired Broward County sheriff’s deputy, acknowledges that the club might stir controversy at FAU, but he said that’s not the intention.

    “There will obviously be people who are against it, and their thinking is that if there is a gun anywhere that there will be shooting,” said Mesang, who sometimes practices at the Delray Shooting Center. “I believe every student has the right to defend themselves, including when they are in the classroom.”

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