Concealed Carry: Will Cedarville Pull the Trigger?

Cedarville’s administration is still considering changes to its firearms policy, but little progress has been made in the past 10 months.

In April 2013, campus safety director Douglas Chisholm told Cedars in an interview that Liberty University’s recent changes to its firearms policy inspired Cedarville to look into similar changes.

“After we got the information on Liberty, I passed it on to key people who are reading it,” Chisholm said. “There’s been more discussion on an informal level at this point. I anticipate that we will have some discussion on (concealed carry policies) in the upcoming month or two.”

Safety is the goal of Cedarville’s firearms policy, Chisholm said. Incidents such as the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 and the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2012 caused the university to rethink its emergency response policies. Changes already include adding a mass communication system that sends alerts to phones and emails and arming security guards on campus.

However, Chisholm said, no official changes have been made since last year.

“I really don’t have anything new to report on this issue,” Chisholm said in a February email. “It is still on the list of items for review. This is an issue that the administration with legal counsel looks at. There are many changes in the law and safety considerations with this particular issue that require close scrutiny.”

Liberty’s path to changing their firearms policy began with its student government.

Craig Storrs, a 2013 graduate of Liberty University, became involved in the firearms policy change in 2010.

“As a member of the Liberty University Student Senate, this was a legislative priority for me,” Storrs said.

In 2011, the Liberty University board of trustees voted to adopt a new policy that allowed students to carry on the outdoor areas of campus and allowed faculty and staff to carry in all academic buildings.

Storrs considered this a good first step toward the desired end results.

“I decided to let the policy sit for an academic year,” Storrs said. “In July of 2012, after seeing absolutely no problems arise from the policy, I approached the chancellor again to see if we couldn’t expand the policy.”

Current Liberty University student government president Josh Warner said President Jerry Falwell Jr. met with his senior staff to discuss the best option to pursue.

“By thoroughly researching, President Falwell and his aides found that a change to LU’s firearm policy would be in the best interest of the students,” Warner said.

In March 2013, the trustees announced another change in the university’s firearms policy, this time allowing students over the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon into academic buildings. These students need to have a concealed carry weapons permit valid in Virginia as well as permission from the LU police department. Firearms are still prohibited in residence halls.

“Falwell and the board of directors made a well thought out choice of allowing for concealed weapons to be allowed on campus,” Warner said. “Research has shown that crime rates drop for colleges that allow their student population to arm themselves. Many students feel better protected knowing they can arm themselves. With numerous school shootings on campuses that have no-firearm policies, it seems logical to give students more options to protect themselves. Every student I’ve met so far has shown support for the change to the policy.”

Student support for the new firearms policy strengthened after a campus safety officer found it necessary to utilize deadly force in a November incident at Liberty.

A male freshman student allegedly pulled out a hammer and assaulted a security guard who was questioning him regarding his presence in a female dorm, according to a World Magazine article. The security guard, who was armed, shot and killed the student in self-defense.

“The officer saved himself with his firearm,” Warner said. “With that said, the opinion for keeping firearms on campus was strengthened because of this horrible situation.”

Concealed carry is a very important issue, according to Sandy Yoder, the faculty/staff adviser for Chi Sigma Mu, the Cedarville student marksmanship organization.

“We are granted that right (to concealed carry) by the Constitution,” Yoder said. “This world is becoming more and more evil, and we must be ever vigilant and aware of our surroundings. Law enforcement cannot make it to a situation in time to stop it. They will make it in time to clean up the mess. I have no desire for that mess to be me or any member of my family.”

Yoder said she believes there is a good chance faculty and staff will be able to carry. Students are less likely to be allowed concealed carry rights. Yoder said there are valid concerns that need to be addressed before students could ever carry firearms on campus.

“There (is) a lot of criteria that I feel students should be required to meet if they are going to be allowed to carry on campus, such as completing the state of Ohio conceal carry course.”

Ohio requires 12 hours of training, comprised of 10 hours in the classroom and two hours at a shooting range, before someone can acquire a concealed carry permit.

Additionally, Yoder said she believes students, faculty and staff who want a concealed carry permit should be required to pass an active shooter course and keep in practice through regular training sessions.

The additional training is important because of the forbearance necessary to safely carry a dangerous weapon and use it properly.

“A firearm is not a play toy,” Yoder said. “There is a great deal of responsibility that goes with it. Just because you take a conceal (carry) course does not mean you are ready to face a bad guy. You must always continuously train, taking more classes and practicing at home. You must have a maturity level that can deal with the fact of what will happen if and when I pull the trigger – and you must be willing to pull the trigger.”

The founding members of Chi Sigma Mu created a survey to find the student body’s opinion on concealed carry permits.

“There was an overwhelming positive response with several students already having their licenses,” Yoder said.

Yoder said this open mindset is encouraging because everyone needs to be concerned about their own personal safety.

“There are no longer any safe havens, including Cedarville University,” Yoder said. “This is an open campus where anyone can come and go as they please. Everyone takes for granted that because this is a Christian school nothing will happen here, and they could not be farther from the truth.”

Whether students desire to carry a firearm or not, they still need to understand what to do if they come across a firearm or are faced with one, Yoder said.

These issues, along with self-defense for individuals without a firearm, will be addressed at the Refuse to be a Victim seminar, hosted by Chi Sigma Mu and the student life department. The seminar will take place on Saturday, March 15, from 9 a.m.-noon.

Chi Sigma Mu was established to enable students to learn firearm shooting fundamentals, improve their shooting skills and provide students with competition with other members and groups.

They seek to:

  • Help establish a lifelong passion for a variety of shooting sports, both recreationally and competitively.
  • Reach out to the student body and enable active participation in a safe and informed setting.
  • Promote safe and educated firearms ownership.
  • Develop a club and teams that will foster ongoing relationships both within and outside of the university.

Mary Miller is a senior nursing major and off-campus news editor for Cedars. She loves her coffee, enjoys reading and looks forward to exploring the world after graduation.

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