To the editor and editorial board of The Western Front,
Several of The Western Front’s recent articles were about campus safety in case of active shooters. Others have been about the safety of the neighborhood from burglars and voyeurs. With the increase in attention given to public safety and the dangers of insecure homes and classrooms, I believe it is time to rethink Western’s weapon policy.
Currently, only law enforcement officers, authorized contractors, or permitted members of U.S. government agencies may carry firearms on campus, according to WAC 516-52-020, which is available to view on Western’s website. I believe that rule should be reexamined with current events in mind and evaluated by professionals to determine whether or not licensed students should be allowed to carry firearms on campus.
If students are to be allowed to carry on campus, proper safety measures should be taken. Mental checks, registry with campus police and demonstration of firearm handling should be prerequisites for students to carry a weapon.
If firearms are still to be restricted, I believe it should be encouraged for students to carry nonlethal self-defense measures such as pepper spray or Tasers. These are easy to use, easy to carry and can serve as a deterrent and defense against burglaries, personal assault or other threats. In any case, self-defense awareness and readiness should be encouraged in order to prevent harm to oneself and one’s property.
People may accuse me and other self-defense advocates as alarmists who contribute to a culture of fear on campus. I believe that the news points to a need for readiness and that it is better to over-prepare than to underprepare. Instead of a culture of fear on campus, I advocate for a culture of empowerment and preparedness.