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Students Bearing Arms Could Help Campus Safety

Scott Bass' article on campus safety ("Safety Spin," News & Features, April 25) seems to promote the idea that unarmed campus security officers could prevent the sort of massacre that happened at VT.

I beg to differ. Even armed police monitoring entrances at each building would not have done so.

Entrance monitors, whether armed or unarmed, do a fine job at keeping out the neighborhood wino or other routinely undesired visitors. That's what they're for. On the other hand, they're pretty much useless against some maniacal murderer such as he-who-shall-not-be-named at Virginia Tech.

Such a killer would simply come into the building and kill the guards, with no warning and no discussion. Even if they were fully trained and armed police officers, they would not have a chance to draw their weapons before they were killed. Once the guards were dead, the killer would be able to wreak unrestrained havoc in the rest of the building, since no one except him would have a weapon.

The only viable solution of which I am aware — and if you have a better one, please let both me and your legislators know — is to allow students the same rights as other citizens have. Allow them to "keep and bear arms," and if they meet the requirements, allow them to carry a concealed weapon. Just one person with his or her own weapon could have stopped the Virginia Tech killer long before he killed 32 others.

Most people, of course, choose not to own firearms. Of those who do choose to own them, most do not carry them. As we learned from the recent Roanoke Times debacle [in which the paper was criticized for printing a list of concealed-weapons permit holders] only 135,000 people in all of Virginia have taken the responsibility, and met the requirements and expense, to obtain a legal permit to carry a concealed weapon. VT and VCU are like many universities, however, in prohibiting even those people from possessing a weapon on campus.

A powerful example is what happened recently at the Appalachian Law School, where a similar multiple murder occurred. In that case, two armed civilians captured the murderer after he killed two people, preventing him from killing many more.

Roy B. Scherer

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