On Monday, about 75 Georgia Tech students initiated a weeklong national protest in support of concealed carry on United States college campuses. The student rights organization, Georgia Students for Concealed Carry organized what has been come to be known as an “empty holster protest”, where participants display empty holsters as a powerful symbol of their vulnerability to attacks. By total coincidence, this event started the very same day as this deadly shooting on the campus of Christian college in California—an incident the protesters point to in support of their cause.
Students for Concealed Carry spokesperson Robert Eagar told the press he thinks a gun would have helped the California incident. He stated:
“It wouldn’t prevent the situation. The first shot’s still going to go off. There’s nothing we can do to guard against every person’s life in that case. But we would have seen the shooting end much more abruptly in my opinion. When a shooter is faced with resistance, they tend to either leave the area, commit suicide in some cases, or simply be injured by the defense. If they’re shot, they can’t continue shooting other students.”
The organization stated that the empty holsters are meant to convey the antithesis of concealed carry—“open carrying” empty holsters telegraphs to any onlookers that the students are not armed and therefore susceptible to assaults.
A spokesperson for Georgia Tech had no comment on the matter other than to say that they follow all state laws (some of which forbid carrying guns on college campuses). Police Chief for the Georgia University, John Mackel, however, expressed his skepticism that guns on campus would increase campus security, citing fears that many college age students are not responsible enough to carry firearms. He said:
“Due to the maturity issues on campus, alcohol and drug issues, and even mental health issues…how many people would be hurt or die out of using weapon inappropriately,” said Mackel.
Students at Georgia Tech say they hope the Georgia state legislature speaks on the issue of campus carry in their upcoming session.
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