Tonya Malinowski / News Editor
Days after the two-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, students at CCSU and hundreds of other college campuses will be seen carrying empty gun holsters.
The students, mostly members of the Riflery and Marksmanship Club, will be carrying the empty holsters between April 20-25 as part of a protest for the right to carry concealed weapons on college campuses.
“We really hope people notice and ask questions,” Club President Sara Adler said.
“We just want to educate the campus and try to break the stigma that guns are bad and people who own them are criminals.”
The protest was organized nationally by Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a group of students, professors, parents and citizens who founded the organization following the Virginia Tech shootings.
The group currently has chapters at 363 campuses in 48 states and the District of Columbia.
“There’s really no difference between people carrying [concealed weapons] here than at the supermarket or the mall,” Adler said. “It wouldn’t change anything because really you wouldn’t even know.”
According to the NRA, one out of every 50 American adults, or 1.3 percent of the Connecticut population, have a concealed carry permit.
The Riflery and Marksmanship Club has already seen opposition to the protest by having their posters torn down.
Adler said she hopes the protest will help change the policy and allow students with permits, to carry firearms on campus.
“I don’t believe in handing over my personal safety to anyone else,” Riflery and Marksmanship Vice-President Steve Khemthong said.
“It’s not like the old West where people are just shooting everything that moves; it’s just about personal safety.”
To obtain a permit to legally carry a firearm in the state of Connecticut, one must be 21 or over, complete an 8-10 hour training course and pass a written exam.
Fifteen states currently leave concealed weapon decisions entirely up to the university, but Utah is the only state allowing concealed weapons on all public universities.
Adler said she doesn’t believe that concealed carry on campus will result in an escalation of violence or a culture of fear, but rather a better sense of safety.
“I see gun-free zones as disarmed victim zones,” Adler said. “Making laws against law-abiding citizens doesn’t affect those who already don’t follow the law.”
The protest, now in its third year, will take place over Spring Week, with around 30 participants anticipated.
The Riflery and Marksmanship Club has over 50 active members.
Khemthong, who carries a concealed weapon in places that allow him to do so, said he hopes the protest changes the way people see weapons on campus.
“I like to know I’d be able to protect myself if I need to,” Khemthong said.
“When seconds matter, the police are only minutes away.”