Conceal and Carry at VA Tech?
One year after the massacre, students seek the right to carry weapons on campus.
BLACKSBURG, Va., April 16, 2008— -- On that windy April day last year, when death descended on Virginia Tech, students, faculty and staff confronted one of America's worst nightmares: A mad, broken young man, armed to the teeth. The memories are still raw.
"Hokie Nation," as they called the school's close-knit community, came together, rallied, and mourned with dignity and a distinctive spirit.
One year later, the Virginia Tech campus is once again an idyllic place, and Norris Hall, where 30 people were murdered by Seung-Hui Cho, and where he took his own life, is being transformed into a Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention.
So, it might come as a shock to learn that, for some students at Virginia Tech, the answer to Cho's gun rampage is concealed handguns — on campus.
"A lot of people don't understand the aspect of carrying for self defense," said Ken Stanton, a 30-year-old engineering graduate student at Virginia Tech, and the head of the Vermont chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. University policy prohibits students or employees, except campus police, from carrying concealed weapons, though visitors who have a valid permit are allowed to keep their guns.
Stanton says concealed weapons can protect students from muggers, rapists and even deranged school shooters like Cho.
"The reality is that it was probably the one thing that could have turned the tables. Many people tried to attack Cho while during this, and stop him. People closed doors, threw things at him ... so realistically speaking, there needed to be a stronger weapon of some kind for someone to have been able to stop him in the situation," Stanton said.
It's a tough sell in a community as traumatized by gun violence as Virginia Tech, but Stanton is convinced guns in the hands of licensed, responsible students would make the campus safer. He also believes that parents may come to accept the idea.
"The first reaction might be, 'Oh, my gosh, there's gonna be guns on campus.' But if you flip that around and understand that there are people there ready to defend themselves and possibly others if there's an attack, it actually becomes a safer place, in that sense, so it becomes an issue of understanding for parents," Stanton said.
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