Last week, Ohio State University student, Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove his car into a group of people at the Columbus campus and then attacked others with a butcher knife. This prompted a group of concealed carry activists to march across the campus of OSU while displaying their guns for all to see. One of the activists and the organizer of the event, Jeffry Smith, a Cincinnati-based firearms instructor, said the attack “was the canary in the coal mine” he hoped state legislators would finally hear.
“On top of the violent crime you have around college campuses, now we have this,” Smith said. “If you look at the states that give colleges the option to allow concealed carry, 99.9 percent refuse … it just further points out to me legislation giving universities the option is worthless.”
Smith referenced Ohio House Bill 48. HB 48 was passed by the state House of Representatives last year. It would allow licensed individuals to carry concealed weapons on campus, pending university approval. State senators could vote on the bill in the last weeks of the legislative session.
OSU President Michael Drake said last week he believes only “trained professionals” should carry concealed weapons on campus. Democrats oppose the bill saying the “guns everywhere” bill goes too far by allowing firearms in daycares, airport terminals and police departments. Others question whether armed civilians would further complicate active shooter situations.
Smith says, “None of them have done the scholastic work of looking at the states where the concealed carry on campus is legal to see if their concerns have come to fruition there. They just want to bring up the same old tired reasons why it’s a bad idea, in the same way people brought up the reasons why concealed carry permits are a bad idea.” Smith says he isn’t surprised by Drake’s refusal to allow concealed carry on campus.
Smith calls the armed campus march, the “no more sitting ducks” walk. This is the seventh event of this kind that he has organized in two years and he started the campus walks in 2014 when there was no meaningful movement from state lawmakers allowing license holders to bring concealed weapons on campus.
His first walk was at the University of Cincinnati in April 2014 saw some 70 concealed carry supporters. Smith says education remains the purpose of the walks. He asks participants to leave their “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and “three percent” shirts at home, hoping to maintain an image of approachability. He said, “My perception is, those kinds of things … make the group seem like a patriot group or a militia group. They tend to segregate us from the people on campus. I want us to appear as everybody else, not to look special or different in some way. I mean, obviously the firearms make us stand out, but I want us to be approachable and some of those things in some people’s minds make us a look unapproachable.”
The latest walk across OSU, Smith says, was quite successful. He says about 95 percent of the students who approached him and other walkers were “supportive or intrigued, but not scared.” “The walk was beyond my wildest expectations,” he said. “It was absolutely off the charts.”