Editorial: The notion of concealed carry at CWRU

Editorial Board

Following several robberies on campus, President Eric Kaler was quick to respond with the implementation of new campus security measures via email. Since then, our new norm has become a heightened awareness when traveling at night on campus. Whether traveling a few dorms away or making the long trek from Southside to Northside, we are always on guard, hoping we aren’t the inspiration for the next safety policy.

One former Case Western Reserve University professor expressed that he does not think the university is doing enough to stop the robberies. In an email meant as a reply to President Kaler, former statistics professor Steven Sidik suggested arming students and faculty in order to deal with the “local bullies” terrorizing CWRU’s community. While he supported the implementation of additional security resources on campus, the former professor was adamantly against Kaler’s closing sentiments, which urged students to give up their material possessions in the event of an armed confrontation.

Throughout the email, Sidik criticized university policy for prohibiting students and faculty from carrying a concealed weapon on campus. He recommended training and arming staff and students for self-defense in order to scare off potential robbers. This would allow for the potential use of lethal force by members of the CWRU community should they be threatened on campus. His approach to campus safety reflects tactics of dealing with a schoolyard bully, where the students of CWRU can either stand up for themselves through armament or give the bully what they want by remaining submissive. By Sidik’s logic, if members of the CWRU community were “permitted by the university to be trained and armed in self-defense, the local bullies would soon begin to realize that assaulting people on campus could result in their death.” 

Sidik has shared thoughts like this before. Contributing to the Strongsville Post, he expresses similar sentiments about gun violence and vigilante justice in the United States. In 2013, Sidik expressed that he does not “generally condone vigilantes, but sometimes, that is the only way to secure public safety,” a notion apparent throughout his email where he seems to believe firmly in the necessity of wielding a gun in order to ensure campus safety.

Unfortunately, many—if not all—of Sidik’s claims are inaccurate or counterproductive.

First and foremost, studies have proven that Sidik’s enthusiasm for concealed carry is entirely baseless. In NBER Working Paper No. 7967, Mark Duggan shows not only that allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons does not reduce crime, but also that increases in the ownership and prevalence of guns lead to higher crime rates. In theory, as Mr. Sidik suggests in his email, concealed carry deters offenders from instigating or participating in criminal activity due to the threat of death. However, if the presence of guns only increases the risk of criminal activity or the likelihood of a victim’s death, a rise in concealed carry may do little but encourage further crime and come at the cost of innocent human lives. In the context of CWRU, an increase in gun ownership on campus could escalate certain confrontations and, regardless of training, will endanger students more than it will deter criminals.

Additionally, the purpose of any university is to provide higher education for students, not raise and train a militia. Students do not enter university with the hopes—or even the thought—of having to participate in gun safety or self-defense training. Students should not be asked or expected to arm themselves or have to live in a gun-filled environment in order to feel safe within their own community. The university cannot condone concealed carry on campus as a personal choice, as it places students at a greater risk of harm, whether in violent confrontations or simply through the presence of firearms. It is the responsibility of the university and its policymakers to ensure the safety and well-being of its students. The university has been and is currently working with trained professionals, many from several police departments, to ensure that students are safe on campus. 

We, as students, understand the frustration regarding the conditions on campus. However, we cannot go so far as to arm ourselves or put ourselves in greater danger in order to ensure campus security. Although it may be difficult, we have to trust our university staff and policymakers to work with trained professionals to foster greater campus safety. In the meantime, students should continue to utilize the increased resources available to them, like Safe Rides and shuttles, so that we can avoid dangerous encounters when traveling at night. We must remain vigilant and exercise caution while the university works to ensure the safety and security of the CWRU community.