The Students for Concealed Carry on Campus’s Empty Holster campaign is in its final two days. The protest will end with a metaphorical bang, when gun law writer John Lott (More Guns, Less Crime) makes the scene at a rally at Texas A&M University. (Their stats teacher needs to rally his troops STAT.) The SCCC campaign’s success is almost as hard to measure as the number of people who may or may not be participating. “[We’ve confirmed via Facebook that] a minimum of over 1,500 participants at 130 colleges across the United States,” SCCC’s Director of Public Relations told TTAG. “We know the number is higher. For example, only a handful have confirmed from Texas Tech, but estimates from a local paper down there are 900 students.” Not a huge number in either absolute or relative terms, then. But Empty Holster has certainly caught the attention of student newspaper op ed writers and the wider media. And Dave Burnett’s well pleased with the coverage—-although he seemed a bit gun shy on the phone, demanding to know my perspective on the issue. After I protested TTAG’s non-partisanship, Burnett explained the rationale behind the protest.

“How can a school tell someone they can’t defend themselves and then not guarantee their safety?” the 24-year-old University of Kentucky grad asked. “Ultimately I’m the only one who can protect me 24 – 7.”

Burnett is quick to point out that the limitations are inherent to the system, not the fault of campus police. “Universities and colleges can’t police and patrol their campuses like an airport or a federal building. And even if they could, well, look at the shooting at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. It happened in the building next door to the police station. At Northern Illinois University, the police were on the scene in 90 seconds. It was already too late.”

“Schools depend on the honor code for their students’ safety . . . We want the right to defend ourselves when it doesn’t.”

Burnett denied that his movement reflects any sort of party politics. He claims the concealed carry on campus issue cuts across Democratic and Republican, conservative and liberal lines. “It’s purely an issue of self-defense.”

Yes but—the majority of college students feel uncomfortable at the prospect of their classmates and teacher carrying concealed weapons, even if they do so legally. “It’s not about comfort. If you asked the Virginia Tech students that morning if they felt safe, they would have said yes. But there’s a big difference between feeling safe and being safe.”

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