Student: gun-free policies keep students from defending themselves

It’s not often that you’ll find a pro-Second Amendment editorial in a college newspaper, but Mark Ciavola recently penned one for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas’s (UNLV)The Rebel Yell.

“Although UNLV claims to be a ‘gun-free zone,’ it is also an open campus, and there is no way of knowing when a concealed firearm has entered the premises,” Ciavola wrote earlier this month.

The opinion piece comes at a time when the Nevada legislature is examining two bills on campus carry; Assemblyman John Hambrick’s AB 2 and Assemblywoman Michele Fiore’s AB 148. The first allows individuals to leave their firearms in their car on higher education property and the second allows individuals with a concealed carry weapon (CCW) permit to carry their firearms onto schools that are part of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

In order to receive this permit in the state of Nevada, one must be 21 years old, pass an extensive background check, be free of any felony convictions, pass a training class conducted by a certified instructor, and pass a target test.

The two pieces of legislation are currently being heard in the Assembly Judiciary committee. Assemblywoman Fiore’s AB 148 was discussed on the committee floor last Thursday.

Ciavola states that the main opposition to the bill is UNLV’s police Chief Jose Elique, who expressed his concerns over introducing more guns on campus in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun in February 2013. Elique is worried that students could be injured by friendly fire in an active shooter situation.

“We don’t know who the active shooter is. We’re looking for anyone with a gun,” Elique told the Las Vegas Sun. “We’re not going to going around asking, ‘Do you have a license?’ We might shoot you.”

According to Ciavola’s editorial, the police chief also argues that the campus is “very safe,” with 22 instances of domestic violence or stalking on campus, five of which were sexual offences, as stated in UNLV’s most recent Annual Security Report.

Off-campus is an entirely different matter; three men were shot at an apartment complex only a half-mile from campus just a few weeks ago.

Ciavola argues that gun-free policies only prevent law-abiding citizens with permits from defending themselves. As Zachary Guymon, president of UNLV’s Students for Conceal Carry, noted in the editorial, “[c]urrent law only stops law abiding people from carrying on campus, if you’re determined to murder, rape, terrorize and assault, would the possibility of a gross misdemeanor really stop you?”

In an interview with Campus Reform, Guymon stated that much of his motivation for starting Students for Concealed Carry and fighting for the current legislation comes from his concern for his fiancée and the story of Amanda Collins.

“The reason why I started this organization, is not for myself, but for my fiancée,” Guymon stated, “to make sure my fiancée comes home safe at the end of night, without incident.”

Amanda Collins, a former student at the University of Nevada at Reno and a concealed carry permit holder, was unable to carry her firearm on the night she was brutally raped at gunpoint on campus. The incident occurred only 100 feet away from her campus safety center, with police squad cars still in view.

“A campus policy that robs students of the ability to defend themselves for the duration of the day is unacceptable,” Ciavola concludes.

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