In the wake of the Newtown massacre, firearms have become a hotly debated issue throughout America. Many are concerned about the safety of schools and other locations that criminals may see as ripe, unguarded targets. Many solutions have been proposed, including having armed police officers guard school buildings.
One potential solution that has garnered some attention is the Armed Teacher Training Program offered by Buckeye Firearms Foundation, a non-profit educational organization in Ohio. This free program provides firearms and concealed-carry training to teachers and school administrative staff.
So far, the program has attracted more than 600 teachers and administrators from throughout Ohio, and continues to grow, attracting several applicants from other states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.
To legally obtain a permit, individuals must be 21 years of age, go through an educational concealed-carry course by nationally certified instructors, and have a thorough background check.
Ohio Revised Code generally prohibits firearms at schools, but the law includes a provision that allows teachers and staff to carry firearms if permitted by the school board. The Armed Teacher Training Program seeks to help teachers gain permission to carry concealed firearms on the job and provides advanced training, which goes above and beyond the typical requirements of concealed carry.
Locally, Case Western Reserve University students have formed CWRU’s own chapter of the Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) organization, a national organization consisting of more than 45,000 college students, faculty, employees, university officials, parents, and citizens who, according to a press release, believe that “state-issued licensees of concealed carry handgun licenses should be granted the same measures of personal protection on university campuses as laws allow in virtually every other situation and location.”
CWRU’s chapter, named Spartans for Concealed Carry, was officially founded this past fall by CWRU student Rylan Pyciak.
“This is a cause that I am genuinely passionate about, given my upbringing and strong values and respect for all individuals’ rights and responsibilities,” said Rylan. “It is an issue that needs to be addressed, and I believe in can be in an educational, informative, and mature way.”
Student safety was one of the main factors behind bringing SCC to CWRU. SCC looks to advocate for equal concealed-carry laws across the country. Currently, citizens with a concealed-carry license may carry a concealed weapon in almost every situation, unless explicitly prohibited by an owner of private property or in federal buildings.
“Many students, including myself, walk to and from campus through some of the most dangerous parts of Cleveland,” said Rylan. “We all have been witness to crimes committed
during our time here. With current policies in place, we cannot defend ourselves along our journey because our endpoint, the university, forbids us from possessing firearms, even if they are concealed.”
While some may be concerned that allowing concealed weapons on campus is dangerous, due to the abundance of college students, Rylan is confident in the maturity of his peers.
“It won’t be like everyone has one; not many students at Case own weapons right now and there are several background checks to filter who is capable of properly possessing a gun,” Rylan explained, “I’m 21, I’m a legal adult in every other sense of the law, so why am I treated like a child now?”
Ultimately, though, Rylan and SCC advocate for concealed carry because of a right to personal self-defense.
“Nobody should bar someone else’s right to defend themselves,” stressed Rylan. “You’ll never know if you need to have a weapon. These kinds of situations require split-second decisions. It is better to have a concealed weapon and never use it than to be in that situation and not have a way to defend yourself.
“We’re not trying to change who can or can’t possess weapons, just where they can be brought.”