Good aim

The Board of Visitors was right to enact a legally enforceable regulation limiting guns on Grounds

Virginia Attorney General and University alumnus Ken Cuccinelli issued a written opinion last summer stating concealed carry permit holders were not bound by the University's policy prohibiting firearms from University facilities and events. Cuccinelli's rationale was that the University's "policy" did not carry the full force of law according to Virginia Code, and therefore was not sufficient to limit the special privileges granted to concealed carry permit holders.

The Board of Visitors rectified this flaw in the University's approach to gun safety last Friday, however, when it approved a new regulation that bans firearms and other weapons from University buildings and events. Unlike a policy, this regulation will be statutorily equivalent to law, meaning it will bring concealed carry permit holders within its purview since Virginia Code specifies that their status "shall not thereby authorize the possession of any handgun or other weapon on property or in places where such possession is otherwise prohibited by law[.]" This was a smart step for the Board to take, as it will minimize students' exposure to dangerous weaponry while keeping the University's gun safety strategy well within the bounds of what is allowed according to the Virginia and United States constitutions.

The University's regulation is substantively similar to one originally enacted in 2007 by George Mason University's Board of Visitors and subsequently upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court of Virginia. Both regulations are binding upon all individuals, with the exception of those in law enforcement, but neither produces a blanket ban upon carrying firearms anywhere on campus. Rather, to meet the test of narrow tailoring they only apply to on-campus buildings and other areas hosting large gatherings of people.

In addition, the University is on the same solid footing as George Mason in promulgating a gun regulation since both are public universities. This is true in light of the 2008 Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court noted "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on … laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings." The Supreme Court of Virginia argued from this logic when it upheld George Mason's authority to regulate firearms on its campus, acknowledging "the fact that GMU is a school and that its buildings are owned by the government," two characteristics that apply to the University as well.

Moreover, there is an obvious need for such a regulation to be in place. Any sort of weapon poses risks when it finds its way into an area with as high a concentration of people as university buildings and events, but this is especially true for firearms given their lethality and their potential for inflicting accidental harm. This holds even for those with expertise in handling firearms, as evidenced by an incident that occurred last week when an Albemarle County police officer inadvertently shot himself in the hand while at the Rivanna Rifle and Pistol Club.

Thus, the Board was correct to implement a firearms regulation at the University. The previous policy served its purpose well, and students, faculty and staff benefitted from the peaceful learning and living environment it promoted. The Board's response to new information about the nuances of state law should merely extend this protection into the future.


Published November 14, 2011 in Opinion





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Joel Taubman
(11/14/11 6:39am)
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If guns kill people, then keyboards make typos.


Brownie
(11/14/11 1:28pm)
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"If guns kill people, then keyboards make typos."

What a deplorable analogy.


George L. Lyon, Jr. (A&S 1976)
(11/14/11 2:01pm)
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Sorry managing board. You and the BOV have it wrong.

Enacting a regulation to prohibit personal protection firearms at University events and within buildings makes students, faculty and staff less safe.

Do yourself a favor and do some research. Mass shootings mostly happen at so-called gun free zones with a high density of persons present (to an active shooter or terrorist, a target rich environment): Schools, churches, shopping malls, college campuses and most surprisingly of all military bases. The presence of concealed carry holders have stopped or limited active shooting situtions: New Life Church in Colorado where Jeanne Assan faced down a semi-automatic rifle with her hand gun and shot an active shooter; Appalachain College Law School here in Virginia where two concealed handgun permit holders subdued an active shooter; and a high school in Mississippi where principal Joel Myrick and his Colt 1911 stopped a high school shooter without firing a shot. Israel signficantly reduced the number of terrorist shooting incidents after adopting an aggressive CCW issuance policy. The likely presence of a concealed carry holder is a deterant to violence. By contrast, the BOV's adoption of a gun prohibition regulation will not deter a singer person intent on doing harm. Was Cho at Virginia Tech deterred by the thought that he was breaking the rules by caring two firearms onto the campus there?

You raise the bug-a-boo of accidental shootings. They are very tragic but also very rare. They are almost always due to either complacency (cop shoots himself in the hand or foot) or ignorance (failure to follow the basic rules of gun safety). By contrast, depending on the study you review, citizen defensive gun uses (DGUs) occur from between 500,000 a year to 2 million. The overwhelming number of DGUs 93-98 percent do not require pressing the trigger. CCW holders and their firearms are allowed on all state college campuses in Utah and in a couple of Colorado schools. Check the record, there have been no firearm mishaps.

Finally, concealed carry permit holders are unlikely to be involved in criminal acts. Concealed permit holders who actually carry their personal protection firearms -- and admittedly many do not -- regularly practice at the range. Many as well pay their own money to take advanced firearms training, as did the 18 other civilians and two young police officers who attended a week long training course with me last week. Police generally are reguired to qualify with their sidearms twice a year, and many unfortunately do not practice on their own time.

Studies I have seen show that concealed carry holders are up to six times most law abiding than police. Since we trust police with guns, this tells me we should trust conceal carry holders even more with theirs.

A personal protection firearm is an emergency rescue tool, similarly to a fire extinguisher. It is needed for a particular purpose, to save the life of an innocent person threatened with imminent death or serious bodily harm. If you lack a fire extinguisher when it is needed the results can be devastating. So it is as well with a personal protection firearm.

For those who seek more information on the topic, which I hope will include The Managing Board, I would refer you to John Lott's research on the subject including his book, More Guns Less Crime, and the works of Massad Ayoob, including his book, In the Gravest Extreme. Perhaps the board could assign a reporter to interview these two gentlemen to gain their perspective on the question at hand.


B
(11/14/11 2:19pm)
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"Moreover, there is an obvious need for such a regulation to be in place"

"Obvious" does not mean "because the author thinks it should be that way." I do not really understand the rationale behind this new regulation; is the theory that by creating this rule, a psychotic killer will magically be unable to bring his guns inside a building? Perhaps you are one of those people who thinks that a psychotic killer might be found innocent of murder, so we had better make sure that he will still be found guilty of carrying a gun into a university building?

"an incident that occurred last week when an Albemarle County police officer inadvertently shot himself in the hand while at the Rivanna Rifle and Pistol Club."

Any moron could see that you are leaving out some details here. People who are simply carrying guns do not frequently shoot themselves in the hand. A quick search revealed some details you left out: the officer was cleaning his pistol, and his pistol was loaded at the time. Anyone who has any experience with firearms knows that you are not supposed to clean a loaded gun.

Is there some reason to think that if people carry their guns into university buildings, they will also sit down and start cleaning them?

"The previous policy served its purpose well, and students, faculty and staff benefitted from the peaceful learning and living environment it promoted."

How did people benefit from it? Your only evidence of this is that a police officer who was being careless wound up injuring himself. On the other hand, here in Virginia we have a case of a psychotic killer being stopped by a pair of students with guns: the Appalachian School of Law incident.

So, how about backing up these arguments, instead of acting like anything you think is true must be obvious to everyone else?


Rich7553
(11/14/11 2:27pm)
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Feel free to cite even a single instance anywhere in the country in which a person intent on committing a crime was deterred by a "no guns" sign or policy. I'll wait...


Brownie
(11/14/11 3:52pm)
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I think that those who are arguing against firearm restrictions are making valid points given the "necessary" premise that everyone has a right to a gun.

However, I think it would be beneficial to consider the process of gun attainment as a root source of firearm-related violence.

\n* As of 2010, federal law does not prohibit members of terrorist organizations from purchasing or possessing firearms or explosives.

* 15 states automatically restore the firearm rights of convicts upon their release from prison...the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice wrote that this system may result in a paradoxical situation in which someone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence is permanently barred from owning a firearm, while someone who kills his spouse has his firearm rights restored after serving his sentence.

\nIt's easy to get guns. As of 2009, there are roughly 307 million Americans and 300 million firearms. Considering that the majority of armed robberies/assaults involve guns that were stolen, the appeal to firearms for self-defense fuels a vicious cycle: the more guns there are, the easier it is for malefactors to illegitimately obtain them (Columbine shooters bought weapons from friends and K-mart, VaTech shooter was declared mentally ill and still easily obtained guns).

So the response that guns stop these people doesn't really address the issue at all. Yeah it's true, but tasers, rubber-bullet firearms, and other non-lethal weapons would stop them as well.

Have to run to class but let me know if you would like links to the sources.


George L. Lyon, Jr. (A&S 1976)
(11/14/11 4:54pm)
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Brownie, there is a basic problem with your point. It is that your point fails to address concealed carry permit holders carrying within buildings on the Grounds or at events. You seem instead to want to restrict firearm acquisition in some additional not not clearly defined manner. There may or may not be valid grounds for that, but the overwhelming number of citizens would still be able to acquire firearms in this country in light of the Second Amendment and the Supreme Court's decisions in Heller and MacDonald.

With respect to the use of tasers, rubber bullets and pepper spray, let's be clear, they are not non-lethal, they are less lethal. A number of persons have died after being tasered. Rubber bullets are likely lethal if they hit certain parts of the body: eyes, windpipe, kidneys, temples to name a few. Pepper spray is potentially lethal to a serious ashmatic. Don't get me wrong, these are also good emergency rescue tools. However, no police officer would use a taser to try to stop a suspect who has a gun trained on an innocent person. The taser shot itself would likely cause the suspect to press the trigger of the firearm with disasterous results. Same for a rubber bullet, and pepper spraying an armed suspect is so out of touch with reality that I must conclude you did not really think that one through. By the way, pepper spray does not work well on an intoxicated person. Ask the police, they know that from their training. Deadly force is justified only in a very narrow extreme circumstance, protecting an innocent from imminent death or serious bodily harm and there is no other reasonable way to stop the attack. Maybe there are some circumstances where less lethal tools will do the job. I in fact carry some of them. You may be willing as a matter of your choice to bet your life on those less lethal tools. But is it fair or right to force me or your fellow qualified concealed handgun permit holders to bet their lives in a lethal encounter when no American policeman or woman would do so.


Brownie
(11/14/11 5:55pm)
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@ Mr. Lyon\n"...they are not non-lethal"\nA baseball can kill a player/spectator if it hits "certain parts of the body." This point is a trivial irrelevant evasion.

"The taser shot itself would likely cause the suspect to press the trigger of the firearm with disasterous results"\nThis is a petty rebuttal. I only found one case in the last ten years relevant to tasers "likely" causing disastrous results (as derived from the gunman erratically shooting), with the use of tasers in this case "possibly causing Moat to pull the trigger to end his own life." I think it would be more pertinent to consider some sources: "Police Executive Research Forum study stat[es] that officer injuries drop by 76% when a Taser is used.""...police surveys show that the device has saved 75,000 lives."

\n"...there is a basic problem with your point. It is that your point fails to address concealed carry permit holders..."\nAs stated in my previous post, I recognize that "those who are arguing against firearm restrictions are making valid points" and qualified concealed weapons are no exception to this. For your accusation to hold you would have to specify the fault in my point, which was that we should consider the misfortune that the use of firearms for self-defense is drastically amplified due to the ease of their attainment.


Sean
(11/14/11 6:17pm)
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Social Liberals must always fall back on blaming inanimate objects for crime. They know that they were responsible for the catastrophic rise in crime rates in this country between 1960 and 1975. They know that reasonable people can compare DC to Wyoming when it comes to firearms laws and crime. Diversion toward absurd philosophies that ignore reality is all they really have. Cars kill far more people than guns do, but you don't see them railing against cars. Knives either.


Paul
(11/14/11 8:03pm)
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If the mere presence or possession of a firearm is considered to be so dangerous that it needs to be outlawed how can one explain the extremely low incidence of accidental or intentional shootings at gun clubs where not only are there many firearms, but they are actually being fired (on many ranges 100's of thousands, in some cases millions of shots per year).

Also, will the University publish a map or put up signage so that members of the general public will know where they can, and where they can't, concealed carry.


B
(11/14/11 8:15pm)
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Paul --

Posting a sign that announces to the world where all the unarmed people are? I doubt that even the anti-gun crowd would want to do such a thing. They know that declaring an area to be off-limits to people carrying firearms will only keep safe, law-abiding citizens with guns out of the area.

-- B


Dan
(11/14/11 8:15pm)
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Now I can sit peacefully in my 400 person lecture hall knowing that if there is one insane individual, hell-bent on causing as much carnage as possible (a la Virginia Tech), there is absolutely no hope of any law abiding individual being able to stop such a menace. Thanks board of visitors.


count
(11/14/11 9:22pm)
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seriously? special priveleges ....concealed carry permit holders? regulation? expertise? peaceful learning and living environment? protection? seriously, this sounds like a notorious athletic department football coach boy shower sodomy case.

concealed weapons permit authority regulation syndrome is a dangerous mental illness, especially for vulnerable boys.

how many liberal law enforcement officers and campus police does it take to effectively apply "the full force of the law" against a homosexual child molesting predator at state college, pennsylvania? how many penn state sodomites got badges or special priveleges?

ken cuccinelli and homosexauland security department policy are obviously more interested in hunting down normal felons with guns than queer social workers and docile civilian sex perverts with government permission.

vive le terror because it is in the best interest of the child to interfere with more than an opinion.


SG
(11/14/11 9:28pm)
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The incident with the officer you mention was due to the officer's carelessness in handling his firearm; carelessness that could have injured or killed an innocent person. Yet officers are allowed to carry despite this regulation. Read this article, http://actionamerica.org/guns/guns1.shtml. You are more that 5 times likely to be accidentally shot by a police officer then an armed citizen.

Try looking at some of these statistics, http://www.nraila.org/issues/factsheets/read.aspx?id=120, on firearm safety and ACCIDENTAL deaths.

"The firearm accident death rate is at an all-time annual low, 0.2 per 100,000 population, down 94% since the all-time high in 1904. Since 1930, the annual number of such deaths has decreased 80%, to an all-time low, while the U.S. population has more than doubled and the number of firearms has quintupled. Among children, such deaths have decreased 90% since 1975. Today, the odds are more than a million to one, against a child in the U.S. dying in a firearm accident." - taken from above link.

The reason that these accidental deaths are so low is training. To get a CCH you must take a safety training course.

CCH permit holders are some of the most law-abiding citizens in the US, yet we are not allowed to protect ourselves on the University grounds. Yes, I feel so much safer now that my life is in the hands of the criminals and not myself.

Gun Free Zones does NOT equal Crime Free Zone...it is a criminal buffet!


George L. Lyon, Jr. (A&S 1976)
(11/14/11 10:53pm)
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Sorry Brownie. You are making a straw man argument. I never disputed the utility of Tasers for law enforcement. I pointed out that they are less lethal not non-lethal. Numerous persons have died after being shot with a Taser.

If you are suggesting members of the University community should be allowed to carry Tasers, however, I would agree with you. But they should be treated as a potential deadly weapon.

So should that baseball bat you mention. Assault with a baseball bat would constitute assault with a deadly weapon.

Now to your point about the availability of guns increasing the need for self defense with guns. You might be correct, although I would point out that violent crime has been increasing in England since defensive firearms were forbidden there. On the other hand, in the United States, violent crime has been decreasing of late even with more and more guns in the hands of citizens.

In any event, unless you repeal the Second Amendment, I don't see how you make any appreciable dent in firearms ownership. And I think we are all agreed, the Second Amendment is not about be repealed.

So sir, I am left not seeing your point about the topic at hand. Should members of the University community have access to the tools to defend themselves from violent attack or not?


William Barratt
(11/15/11 1:31am)
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Attention, robbers and rapists! Afraid of getting shot by your victims? Well, worry no longer! Just make your way over to the University of Virginia, where people aren't allowed to protect themselves!

The University won't be getting any donations from me while these harmful anti-gun policies are in effect.


Wes
(11/15/11 6:44am)
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So the only civilians who will carry firearms at UVA are the criminals. Brilliant move, BOV. Thomas Jefferson must be wondering when thoughtful reason to combat dangerous feel good policy left his beloved University. Stupidity 1, Common Sense 0.


DennisM
(11/15/11 11:27pm)
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I can hear Thomas Jefferson rolling over in his grave at the continued loss of our liberties. The most left-wing bleeding heart liberal knows deep within their heart that this will not protect students, faculty or staff. A gun free zone is a target rich environment for criminals. Persons with VA concealed weapon permits have undergone background checks and should be permitted to carry on UVA, GMU, etc. Jus' say'n.


Jack
(11/16/11 4:47am)
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If you have any questions regarding the CWP law or training contact www.e2c.us or 1-866-371-6111 and the Instructors at Equip 2 Conceal will be happy to help you.



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