Gun Rights Activists: Firearms Ban Would Make MSU More Dangerous

BOZEMAN Mont.
Montana State
University plans to restrict
firearms and ban concealed weapons from campus, steps that gun-rights activists
argue would make students more vulnerable if a Virginia Tech-style gunman were
to threaten the MSU campus.

In April, a mentally disturbed Virginia Tech student shot
and killed 32 people in a dormitory and classroom building before killing
himself. In 1990 at MSU, Brett Byers fatally shot two other students in a
dormitory.

“The only thing a gun-banning policy will accomplish is
to insure that this madman has a pool of defenseless victims to kill, that he
will encounter no effective resistance as he carves a swath of death through
the MSU campus,” wrote Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports
Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association.

MSU received nearly 100 comments on the proposed update of
its weapons policy and only about two supported the proposed weapons
restrictions, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Monday.

The overwhelming majority, about 70, agreed with Marbut that
banning concealed weapons and restricting firearms would make the campus more
dangerous.

“Had there been more loaded guns in view, and
accessible, the carnage at VA Tech could have been either completely averted or
minimized, not by a brave professor using his own body as a shield, but by a
responsible adult student with a concealed weapons permit,” wrote Danielle
D. Emery of Billings.

T.J. Reeder of Helena
was more blunt, asking, “When will you issue the T-shirts with the
bullseyes (and) a flashing light saying ‘Shoot me!! I’m unarmed!'”

On the other hand, MSU Police Chief Robert Putzke said he is
an NRA member and generally supports concealed weapons permits, but not on
campus.

Putzke said he doubts that allowing concealed weapons on
campus would deter a shooter, because “they’re so intent on what they’re
going to do.” An active shooter situation is usually chaotic, the chief
said, and any student trying to stop a gunman might not have the skill to do
it.

“What if one or two of your shots went wild and shot
one or two students?” Putzke asked.

MSU’s biggest crime problem is theft of students’ property,
including computers, cell phones, iPods, books and bikes, Putzke said. A high
number of students don’t lock up their property, so if they had concealed
weapons, his concern is that “we might see a lot of theft of firearms,
that might be used in a crime.”

MSU announced in June that in light of the Virginia Tech
shootings it would update its weapons policy, look into a campus-wide emergency
notification system and consider how to keep people secure inside buildings.

MSU officials said the new weapons policy would ban a
specific list of weapons, including rifles, shotguns, handguns, knives with
blades 4 inches or longer, explosives, swords, nunchucks, throwing stars and
other martial arts weapons, crossbows, compound bows, recurve bows, BB guns,
paintball guns, dangerous chemicals, real-looking toy guns and pepper spray
except for small, personal-sized pepper spray dispensers, which would not be
banned.

Cathy Conover, university spokeswoman, said no
decision has been made on whether to alter the proposed policy in light of the
public comments.


– Associated Press



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