by Jim Nintzel
We got a rather lengthy—and comma-packed—press release today about a group of UA students who are forming a local chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. The release begins:
STUDENTS FOR CONCEALED CARRY ON CAMPUS CHAPTER FORMS AT UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
Members of the University of Arizona community, concerned about their ability to defend themselves against spree-killers and common criminals, alike, have banded together to form a local chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a national organization that advocates allowing concealed carry by licensed individuals, on-campus, much as they already do elsewhere.
"If people who are licensed to carry concealed weapons do so without incident in malls and movie theaters and churches," explained James Knitter, a physiology sophomore and the group's organizer, "then why should these same people be disarmed on-campus? After the shooting at NIU and the subsequent introduction of SB 1214, it was time to take a stand for what I believe in: our rights as Americans and our natural God-given right to defend ourselves, a duty that falls squarely on the individual.”
The group's activity to date has largely been in support of SB 1214, a bill in the Arizona Senate which would allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons (CCW) at the state's universities. Oklahoma's state House recently passed a similar measure, and Utah adopted one in 2007.
"I have been speaking with fellow students and writing/calling legislators," said Pete Stephenson, a junior majoring in Physics, whose activity has been typical. "At all times I am polite and reasonable when discussing the issue with others."
The group is planning further activity, including empty-holster protests and distribution of literature. Whether they will seek status as an officially recognized University club is uncertain.
Ben Kalafut, a Physics graduate student serving as the group's press secretary stated, "If SB 1214 passes and avoids the governor's veto, this issue could be settled by the end of the
semester. If it doesn't, or if Governor Napolitano turns this into a dragged-out battle, we'll stick around until we enjoy the same rights as everyone else in the state."
Organized opposition efforts, including a letter-writing campaign by the Young Democrats, have been taking place for several weeks. John Luiten, a CCW-licensed staff-member of the Computer Science department, who legally kept a rifle in his dorm while studying as a UA graduate student in the 1980s, explains SCCC's delay:
"We handle things ourselves...we don't parade our victimhood and band together in displays of identity politics. In short, our ilk made this country. And when we are gone, this country will be unmade even faster."
"Waiting so long to organize means we missed some opportunities," remarked Kalafut." The Board of Regents took a bizarre position on SB1214. It appears, at first glance, that they favored symbolic 'nurturing' over the safety of students and employees, but when we look to statements they made to the press, it seems as though they didn't fully understand the bill, or the issue. Were we organized and on our toes, things may have played out differently."
Continued Kalafut, "Someone needs to stand up for facts over fear. Lone voices simply aren't loud enough to counter UAPD’s Sergeant Mejia and Chief Daykin, when they make what amounts to false statements to the Legislature and the press. Instead of calling their counterparts at Colorado State to ask about the realities of concealed carry on campus, they crafted made-up answers based on fear, uncertainty and doubt.. That's grossly unprofessional, but instead of being taken to task for it, they were treated as authoritative!"