Students value gun safety on campus

 Wartburg Security officer Cyril Klein displays one of the guns held under Wartburg Security's possession. Other guns, knives and weapons, even fake weapons, are also stored. — Karina Devine/TRUMPET

Wartburg Security officer Cyril Klein displays one of the guns held under Wartburg Security’s possession. Other guns, knives and weapons, even fake weapons, are also stored. — Karina Devine/TRUMPET

Imagine two people on campus with guns pointed at each other. When the police arrive, they don’t know which person has a right to conceal and carry and which one does not, so the police shoot both of them.

“The person with the best intentions gets shot because the police don’t know the difference. They are responding to the situation,” John Myers, head of Wartburg security said.

A recent study from Ball State University found that 78 percent of Midwest students oppose guns on campus even if the person has a permit to conceal and carry.

Students in the study believed that allowing concealed weapons would increase the rate of fatal suicides and homicides on campus. Wartburg College’s view is no different.

“I don’t think students need to carry a gun on campus. I’m OK with faculty [concealing and carrying weapons] but there is a big maturity gap between a lot of students our age and say 10 years from now,” Rick Perham, a Wartburg student and hunter, said.

Wartburg has a “no weapons” policy. This means students or staff members are not allowed to keep guns in a gun safe in their rooms, locked up in their car or concealed and carried on their bodies.

There are some exceptions to this rule.

If students wish to target shoot or go hunting, they must inform security of their weapon and store it in the Wartburg security safe located in their office.

When the student wants to use their firearm, they can call security, retrieve it from their safe and have a security guard walk with the student holding the firearm to their car.

“What we don’t want is for somebody to see you walking by yourself with a gun or walking across a parking lot. So having a security officer beside you hopefully will take that fear away from anybody that had those concerns,” Myers said.

Perham is one of several Wartburg students who have found other ways to store their guns.

If a student has connections to off-campus residents, they are allowed to store their firearms in their homes as long as the guns do not go onto campus grounds.

The Ball State University study also found that students who do want the right to conceal and carry feel the need to have a way of protection on them. Both Myers and Perham agreed pepper spray is one option students could use to protect themselves.

“I feel like most people don’t spend enough time with a gun to be comfortable and effective with it and are more of a danger so I feel like pepper spray is a much better option than a firearm,” Perham said.

The Wartburg Security office is open twenty-four hours a day.

“My response is no guns except for the police,” Myers said. “That would lessen the chance for mistakes.”

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