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Thursday, April 8, 2010

JMU Students Participate in "Empty Holster" Week

The James Madison University (JMU) student newspaper blog posted a story today about students who are participating in this week's "Empty Holster" protest. For the second year in a row, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus is sponsoring the protest as part of their effort to raise awareness and change the rules prohibiting legal concealed carry on college and university campuses.

Like most institutions of higher learning, JMU prohibits firearms on campus. While visitors to the campus cannot be prohibited from carrying their legally permitted concealed handgun according to a 2006 Attorney General's Opinion, Virginia's colleges and universities can ban students and employees from carrying.

JMU has a very active chapter of SCCC and members are working to change university policy.

“It’s clearly been shown that a college is not secure,” said junior Kory Verdonck, SCCC’s service coordinator. “Courthouses, airports [where weapons are prohibited] have very heavy security, and campus security has holes.”

Not surprising, JMU takes a different view:

University spokesman Don Egle disagreed with SCCC’s opinion that JMU was not a secure campus.

“The university is responsible for ensuring a safe environment for students and staff,” Egle said. “We have a great law enforcement division and a responsible faculty and staff. Individuals carrying concealed weapons does not make campus safer.”

Maybe Mr. Egle should sign up for a Google News Alert with the key words "Crime on College Campuses" and he would get the same list of articles that this writer receives everyday. Like any police department, college police cannot protect every individual. They react to incidents, usually after they have happened. All the JMU students, and the other students who support SCCC's position, want is the ability to protect themselves should the need arise.

The JMU chapter will also be holding an open forum-style debate on the issue on the Campus tonight at 6 p.m. for any students who are interested.

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