Hanna Pennington, a Marshall University student (not pictured above), brings a new twist to the age-old, “I’m a gun owner, but I support gun control” shtick. Instead, she prefers to trump that with, “I have a concealed carry license, but I oppose campus carry.” Clearly, qualifying for a concealed carry permit doesn’t convey wisdom or common sense on the recipient if none existed previously.
West Virginia is in the midst of a debate on campus carry as a result of a bill that’s currently working its way through the legislature. After passing the House, it failed to make out out of a Senate committee this week.
Following the same pattern seen in every other state in which campus carry has been legalized, faculty and vocal members of the student body are predicting blood and mayhem in the halls of academe if licensed individuals are permitted to pack heat during the education process.
Who was it who famously wrote that it’s better to be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt? Seems Miss Pennington, the “Life!” section editor for the Marshall University student newspaper, didn’t get to that quote in her college coursework. At least not yet.
Guns do not belong on campus. I say that as someone who is not against the concept of owning a firearm. I say that as a woman who owns a pistol and as someone who takes advantage of my right to carry a concealed firearm nearly every day.
I am no stranger to feeling uncomfortable or vulnerable in a public place. Because of this, I feel that carrying a gun in my purse is an equalizer. Although I hope to never use it, having it makes me feel more comfortable in situations where I am alone and would normally feel somewhat helpless. I shouldn’t have to feel this way, but I do, and carrying a firearm gives me confidence.
However, I don’t feel this way on my campus. I don’t feel scared or at risk when I am walking from class to class; I don’t feel I need a gun within arm’s reach as I’m studying in the library or in the Student Center.
Puzzlingly, Pennington states that gun regulations such as campus carry prohibitions don’t restrict her rights. Is that some form of Orwellian newspeak? Is slavery somehow freedom? Is ignorance strength on the Marshall campus?
At the same time, she manages to mention her “feelz” eleven times in a four-paragraph span. Impressive. Young Ms. Pennington writes that guns aren’t necessary at Marshall because she “feels” protected on her campus, while completely ignoring the possibility that someone else might have a different opinion on the matter.
When it comes to her fellow students, she probably has little to worry about. However, sometimes the real world intrudes onto college campuses. Like a high-profile incident just a couple of weeks ago at the University of Chicago where three armed robbers ran through campus buildings while fleeing police.
Closer to my world, Illinois State University regularly sends out text messages alerting students and staff of dangers on campus here in our bucolic town, which isn’t terribly unlike Huntington, home to Marshall. We get alerts on a weekly, if not daily basis. These situations include armed robberies, sexual assaults, reports of shots fired, shootings, stabbings and my favorite, “man with a gun on campus.”
Let’s face it: sometimes bad things happen, even to good people like Ms. Pennington. She probably doesn’t feel any imminent danger from fire either, but almost certainly has a smoke detectors and extinguishers in her home and classrooms. Just in case.
Hanna Pennington has the freedom to choose not to carry and will have to live with the consequences of that decision. But she shouldn’t presume to make that decision for everyone else.