Students lobby for conceal-and-carry right

Debate sparks discussion on campus at DePaul
April 30, 2008 8:34:01 AM PDT
With the number of school shootings across the country, gun advocates are pushing for more weapons on campus. "Students for Concealed Carry on Campus" is a group pushing for at least a broader discussion of the idea, and they're being heard right here in Chicago.

You can walk into a student union building hangout on the DePaul campus and you won't be far away from a raging debate about safety, deterrence and the Second Amendment. It's typical of what's happening elsewhere, as scared students grapple with how to best protect themselves. And they're willing to listen to those who propose something that would seem to be anathema to most -- more guns in classrooms.

"We should shoot for things, we should shoot for a violence free society, but at the same time let's not totally let go of reason," said Mick Paskiewicz, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

They are interesting words for Paskiewicz to choose as the campus leader of the group that wants those licensed to be allowed to carry firearms on campus, contrary to the regulations of most schools in the United States. He and his friends are walking around with empty holsters to make their point.

"When I lived in Indianapolis, I was less worried about crime than when I am here in Chicago. This past weekend we had over 30 shootings," said Paskiewicz.

Plenty of undergraduates dropped by an information table in the DePaul student union building. Such scenes are being repeated at schools across the nation, in light of such shooting tragedies as Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, and students can't help but be drawn into the debate.

"Because there was no opportunity for people to defend themselves, they just had to cower under their seats and hope that he didn't come to them," said Galen Burghardt, Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

There are converts to the cause and others who will argue against it all day.

"The idea of people holding guns or a Glock in English class to make us safer, I think is just completely preposterous," one student said.

"Why?" another asked him. "They already do it in offices, and malls and movie theatres and banks."

"No one would start going with guns anyway because they are scared," said Paula Sokolowska, freshman, business administration.

"There are people who are robbing people, there are muggings," one student said during a discussion.

"Right, we are talking about two different things," another responded.

"No we are talking about the same thing - crime," said the first student.

"If you have students needing to hold guns on them, that is just a sign that there is something really sick with this country and a quick fix is not to just give kids concealed weapons," said Ben Wegner, freshman, political science.

DePaul University being in Chicago has no plans of course to change its policy banning guns on campus. Interestingly, Utah is the only state that allows concealed carry on campus and there have been no campus shootings there.

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