Students stage 'empty holster' protest in BG
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 10:22
Students at Bowling Green State University who have concealed carry permits are protesting the state law that keeps them from packing on campus.
Though only about 10 students at BGSU are participating in the "empty holster protest," they are joined by students on college campuses across the nation this week.
Josh Maddox, a member of Falcons for Concealed Carry, said the quiet protest has stirred some interest.
"It's an empty holster, so people are looking at me a little strange," Maddox said.
Across the country, students want laws changed so they are allowed to carry guns on college campuses.
Maddox questioned why Ohio law permits him to carry his Smith & Wesson 9 mm to Walmart, but not at school.
"There's no difference," he said. "There's nothing that intrinsically makes is unsafe."
Current state law bans people from bringing guns into law enforcement buildings, correctional facilities, airport terminals or airplanes, facilities for people with mental illnesses, courthouses, universities, churches (unless individually permitted), child care centers, bars (if consuming alcohol), governmental buildings and school safety zones.
Dr. Geoffrey Howes, a BGSU professor, would like the law to stay put banning guns on college campuses. He understands the theory that in cases such as the Virginia Tech shootings, an armed person may have intervened before law enforcement arrived.
"There might be some way to stop it, slow it down," he said. "But from my point of view, it depends too much on chance."
Howes said the thought of armed students does not make him feel more safe.
"I would rather know there are not people on campus with guns," he said. "I think it's such a small possibility of it contributing to a solution."
In fact, Howes said in some scenarios the students with concealed carry permits could be at risk when law enforcement responded to an incident.
"I think it would put that person in great danger," he said.
But Maddox said he and others want to be prepared for situations like the mass shootings around the nation. They find little comfort in other self-defense.
"They tell you to go hide, or use a ballpoint pen to protect yourself," he said.
That just doesn't feel right to Maddox, who frequently carries his gun.
"Whenever I'm not in Bowling Green, I always have it on," he said. "I'm a Boy Scout. It's a safety thing. Boy Scouts taught us to be prepared."
Though the empty holster protest is turning a few heads on campus, this isn't the first time Falcons for Concealed Carry have caught some attention.
Since Ohio law allows guns to be stored in cars on campus, one member of the group carries spare gun magazines in his pocket. In a classroom, the student took the magazines out to put in his backpack - creating some anxiety in class.
"He wasn't trying to do anything," just move the magazines, Maddox said.
The empty holster protest has not caused any problems on campus this week, according to BGSU Police Chief Monica Moll.
"I haven't heard a thing," Moll said.
Since Ohio law requires concealed carry permit holders to be at least 21 years old, that eliminates a lot of the students from participating, Moll said.
Moll said she personally has no strong feelings about concealed carry permits on campus.
"I don't think it will solve all the problems," nor will it create a lot of problems, she said.
"Currently, it's against the law, so we will be enforcing it," Moll said. "If the law ever changes, we'll switch gears."