A University of South Carolina freshman was arrested on Tuesday for having a small cache of handguns in his dorm room.
Campus police nabbed Trevor Scott Stephens of Walterboro, SC, after being tipped off by a resident mentor that the 17-year-old was keeping handguns inside his room in Maxcy Residence Hall.
After receiving the information, officers confronted Stephens outside his dorm room. They searched the freshman and found a pocketknife.
Police then questioned about whether the teen was stowing any illegal weapons in his room. At first, Stephens only fessed up to having a pair of brass knuckles.
When the officers pressed Stephens about other weapons, he reluctantly admitted to possessing several handguns, according to the incident report.
The police then searched his room and vehicle; in total they seized five handguns along with some bullets from a green duffle bag inside the dorm room closet.
Following the discovery of the weapons, police slapped the cuffs on Stephens and transported him to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. He was released into the custody of his parents on Wednesday after putting up a $20,000 surety bond.
Stephens is now banned from USC campus indefinitely. He must not have any contact with any students or faculty members, officials told local reporters.
“We are pleased to see that the programs and processes we have in place worked as they should to recognize and address unlawful activity,” Dennis Pruitt, vice president for student affairs, told WIS-TV.
“Our bystander program worked and law enforcement was notified. Officers responded quickly and handled the matter appropriately, and our housing and student affairs staff has mobilized to provide counseling or other services to those students who request them,” Pruitt added.
Upon learning of the incident, some USC students became worried.
“What if there’s more of them in our dorm? What if there’s more of them in other dorms, you know? The only reason that guy got caught is something suspected. It’s scary. I don’t really like thinking about it,” Lane Erwin told WIS-TV.
However, VP Pruitt hopes to allay those fears, citing the university’s training procedures and the ability and willingness of students and faculty to identify and report potential threats.
“When systems work well you’re thankful you’ve done the preparation,” said Pruitt. “You can never do enough. You can never predict the next incident you always have to be diligent and we want our students to do the same — be diligent, be vigilant, and watch for things that are unusual and take that step to stand up if they need to.”
As for Stephens, he now faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine if he is convicted. According to authorities, there was no reason to believe that the teen was planning an attack.
A story like this one cuts both ways for the campus carry cause. That is, on one hand, if underage and irresponsible students are sneaking firearms onto campus illegally – for whatever reason – wouldn’t one feel better knowing that there were also law-abiding students and faculty members with CCW permits roaming the campus?
Then, on the other hand, the mere report of a student bringing five handguns to school reflects poorly on the entire gun community and serves to undermine the campus carry cause with respect to the general public, you can already imagine the argument from the pro-gun control crowd, “See, that’s what it would be like if we allowed guns on campus, dorm room closets stockpiled with weapons!”
Bottom line, due to stories like this one, campus carry will continue to be a hotly debated topic. Let’s hope that common sense prevails in the end.