Bearing arms

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution enshrines citizens’ right to bear arms. There has always been debate over what exactly this means. Some people see it as an unassailable right and a guarantee against tyranny, while others see it as a relic of a time when people lived in cabins and worried about bear attacks and the British army, needing some revising to reflect 21st century realities.

At Case Western Reserve University, this debate comes up when people question whether they should be allowed to carry firearms on campus. People who complete the background check and training course offered by the County Sheriff can obtain a concealed carry permit, which allows them to carry a weapon on their person in this county, subject to some restrictions. One of those restrictions prohibits carrying guns into areas labelled as educational zones, like CWRU. It is also currently against university policy to carry a firearm on campus, and doing so can get you fired or expelled.

Some would argue that weapons are needed for self-defense when travelling across campus, or that in Ohio, people are allowed to use weapons in defense of their homes under something called a castle doctrine. Why couldn’t a residence hall be considered a castle while you’re living in it?

The counter is that weapons bring their own risks. Would disputes escalate into shooting matches, especially in circumstances involving alcohol? There are robberies involving CWRU students and staff every year, but none have resulted in life-threatening injuries to victims, at least in recent memory. Would that change if firearms were involved on both sides? Would any of these incidents have been prevented by someone carrying a gun?

There are also more mundane concerns, like storage of weapons and weapon safety. Accidental discharges are always possible when you are dealing with loaded weapons. Would you feel more or less safe if you knew the person sitting next to you in class or the person in the suite next door had a gun? How do you think it affects police personnel and policing in general in a society as heavily armed as ours? Food for thought as we consider CWRU taking on this national issue.

On the Beat is a weekly safety column written by Sergeant Jeffrey Daberko and Officer Mark (The Crossing Guard) Chavis of CWRU PD. We welcome questions, suggestions and gripes/groans/moans/complaints about campus life at