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Reader Mike writes:

The alarm jolts you awake, your hand shoots out slapping at your phone trying to put it on snooze. You succeed only to have it go off again after a few seconds. “Three and half hours of sleep…not bad,” you mutter as you drag your tired body out of bed and get ready to head to school. You walk in a daze, barely minding your surroundings. All you care about is more sleep….and work, all those applications for internships, all for nothing but the rejections . . .

Before you even make it to studio, your stomach reminds you that even though sleep in the architecture world is overrated, you still gotta eat. You think about what you’re going to get as you head to studio to drop off your backpack and then to the school cafeteria before realizing class starts in a half hour. Going to take too much time to walk all the way out there, you decide to go to the first floor café of the architecture building to grab a sandwich instead. That’s when your phone alerts you to a text: “Person with a weapon has been reported on Danforth Campus”.

Crap. Not again. And this time, it’s on this campus, better hurry up and get inside. Before you even enter the parking lot, your phone goes off again. This time the school emergency service is calling you. “A person with a weapon has been spotted on the Danforth campus, shots have been fired. Please go to a place you feel safe and remain there until further notice” the automated voice informs you.

Your hand tightens around the phone as you start scanning your surroundings. No good…you’re out in the open. You start moving between the cars while scanning the area, ready to drop down in case you spot the shooter. You run across the last remaining open spot to get inside. Then you look around again…am I really that safe in this building? Where can I take cover? Exit paths? Alternate routes to move through the building?

No, it doesn’t look too good. You head to studio thinking of ways to defend yourself if in the worst case scenario the shooter enters the building. What do you have…fire extinguishers, rulers, X-Acto knives, box cutters, various paints and glues. The only “real” weapon you have is your pocket knife. Your mind goes to the gun that’s sitting in your safe back in the apartment. Well, damn, how unfortunate you can’t have it with you.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 7.20.22 PM
Some tools of the trade. Laugh all you want at the ruler, but those suckers are solid aluminum.

This is what happened that day on April 20, 2016. Luckily, there was no active shooter, if you want to use that term. Instead, from the media reports, in a case of road rage, a person opened fire at another vehicle before escaping.

Regardless what the actual reason was, it’s quite certain that even though there was no active shooter and that the shooter more than likely wasn’t affiliated with the school, Monsanto Mommy will still mark it down as another school shooting. One person, a school employee of the school food services, was injured. She was shot in the arm, but was reported as non-life threatening. There haven’t been any updates on the motive; whether she was the target of the road rage or just an innocent bystander who can get hit by a stray round.

There are allegedly two suspects, both still not found to date. The lockdown went on for over 90 minutes and we were told to shelter in place until the further notice. The shooting occurred in front of the school bookstore, right next to the school cafeteria that had considered.

It should also be noted that this wasn’t the first incident of shots fired near the Washington University Danforth campus. The school has five campuses. In the past month, there were shooting at two. One near the North Campus, which contains mainly administrative offices and another near the Medical Campus in which was person was injured. In both cases, the respective campuses went into lockdown.

Now my school, like the majority of universities across the nation, has a no carry policy. We are officially a gun-free zone. Instead, we are to rely on campus police and security to protect us in events like this. Below is an example of what we have to do in the event of a threat:

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This is the only option the school gives in “defending” ourselves. (Source: NY Daily News)

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to board up their doors like that. I went down to the wood shop to grab some sandpaper (even under lockdown, the architecture grind still goes on) only to find that the door was locked. After managing to text a friend in there to open the door, I walked in to see well over three dozen students inside. It turns out a freshman class decided to take shelter there, a room with one of the walls lined with windows that have no blinds. One can easily look in from the outside. Not exactly a safe place to hole up.

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My current home defense set up. A Smith & Wesson M&P9c

After getting back home, I found a pamphlet as I cleaned my desk. It was part of a letter that was sent out near the beginning of the school year. Of the various papers in side, one was a pamphlet titled “Know where to go in an emergency.” Among the various emergencies that can happen on campus such as tornados and earthquakes, there was a category for active shooters. They list the following:

Run: Leave the building if someone in it is shooting a firearm or committing violence. Notify anyone you encounter to exit the building.

  • Hide: If you cannot leave the building, lock or barricade yourself in the nearest room. Hide and keep as quiet as possible.
  • Fight: If confronted by the gunman, fight and defend yourself.
  • Report: Call the emergency number for your location, if possible.
Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 7.20.51 PM
The pamphlet that doesn’t exactly provide the great advice for certain situations.

I find it more than a little ironic that they advise us to fight, yet they prevent us from carrying the tools to do so. Knives are also forbiden on campus, but since I’m an architect student, it works as an excuse…granted no one knows I have it in the first place.

The school has two types of security. We have Campus Security whose officers are unarmed and the Campus Police. I can’t say if they’re an entity of the St. Louis Metro Police, but these officers are armed and I recall seeing shotguns and ARs in their patrol vehicles.

What I don’t understand is why they expect us, the students, to believe that they are capable of defending us. Granted we do have a relatively small campus, but it still takes time to respond.

Take the previous image of the barricaded room, for instance. Want to make that room even more secure? Let a student in there carry a gun. Honestly, as this point I will be willing to compromise, even though I don’t like it. I’m willing to follow a similar set of rules to those now in place at the University of Texas so long as I can carry a firearm. I’m not trying to replace the police. I’m not saying that they can’t do their job. But there aren’t that many officers on our campus and they can’t be everywhere at once. I believe I have a better chance of protecting myself in an emergency before they can react and reach my location.

So what options do I currently have?

  1. Carry anyway: I’m not going to take any chances with this, even more so since I was already reported to the school of architecture dean earlier in the semester because someone saw a picture of a gun as I was reading an article (I believe I was on TFB at the time). Furthermore, there isn’t an option to carry on the MetroLink and the buses as currently it’s illegal to do so in Missouri. Walking to school is the only way to go while armed until I get my own transportation.
  2. Leave it in a car: Wash U. is way ahead of you on this one; no weapons may be stored within your vehicle on any school owned property such as parking lots. So I would have to get to school early (friends say 7-8AM is a good time) to park on the street and then walk to school. Chances of anyone searching your vehicle are probably slim, but I still don’t want to take the chance.
  3. Go less lethal: Not something I want to, but it’s a viable option nonetheless. Especially with the new Taser that’s now on the market that is actually compact, the Pulse. As it stands, the price can’t be completely justified, but it’s something I can work toward.
  4. Call the school: After digging around, it turns out that the campus police chief is the only person who can grant an exemption to the no-carry rule. I called the Lieutenant (current the acting chief), but he didn’t answer and hasn’t returned my call either. I’m sure the good Lieutenant is busy with the current investigation and I’ll call again in the future, but I highly doubt he will grant me an exemption.


Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 7.20.55 PM
On March 5th, 2016. Wash. U. held a “discussion board” regarding gun violence and the gun problems this country faces. It was tempting to go but I like my sanity. I felt this was much better time spent.

My current goals are to take shooting lessons over summer break. My father taught me gun safety and the basics of shooting. Speed and accuracy are something I need to work on, as well as getting rid of the training scars I picked up from teaching myself how to shoot (most of what I know such as drawing from a cover garment, reloading, trigger control, etc. were self-taught.

I also plan on looking for local IDPA or USPSA clubs to put my skills to the test and learn from others. As much as I would like to purchase more guns (I would love to get another pistol and maybe start acquiring rifle parts), that will be determined by whether or not I can secure an internship.

Those are my goals. More than likely I’ll be getting upgrades for my M&P.

Thank you for reading about my experience.

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  1. At my Alma Mater, a very large portion of the students are ROTC or Vets. We also have a unique set of degrees that are of interest to many who consider carry firearms. Until recently, the campus security was not armed, and so many of us would carry regardless of the weapons ban. While I understand your reticence to break that rule, and while I would never encourage anyone to break the law or rules of their university, the saying goes, “better to be judged by twelve than carried by six.”

    • I went to wash u. I was in the architecture school. I still live in stl. I go to matches regularly. I will take you with if you ever want to go.

  2. An M&Pc for HD…

    Why not the full size? It’s not like you have to lug it around all day.

  3. Luckily my generation watched Bert The Turtle so we know how to Duck And Cover. Silly Millennials; not watching Bert!

  4. The doors in the classroom pic open outwards. Must not be the Engineering Dept – Probably Social Sciences.

    • IE – Architecture (as in “Art”/the antithesis of Engineering). Hinges? What do you mean?

      “Three and half hours of sleep” – Because college “studying”. Yeah sure.

    • Universal Building Code requires doors that open outwards in spaces designed for group occupancy. You’ll notice this everywhere you go — theaters, businesses, schools, apartment buildings. (Pretty much everywhere except for individual offices and single-family dwellings.)

      Makes it more difficult to keep an armed bad guy out, but it ensures that a crowd of people won’t accidentally barricade themselves in if an emergency causes an en-masse rush for the door.

      • So what your saying is that if I’m ever trapped in an crowded auditorium or theater with a gunman just outside, that yelling “FIRE!” and starting a mad panic for the doors is a viable self-defense strategy, and may save lives.

        I’ll let the antis chew on that scenario for a bit, heheee.

  5. In an emergency situation, I go to the nearest bathroom. Because I’m an old guy and my definition of an emergency is different from that of a college student.

  6. My alma mater is VaTech, so I have had a good deal of interest in the shooting there. It is very obvious the shooter knew the rules very well, and carefully planned on how to use them to assure that he would have a clear path, no opposition to killing as much as he wished. He carefully purchased locks and lengths of chain so that he could lock armed defenders out. He knew he did not have to worry about anyone being armed inside the building. It has been a good while since that tragedy, but isn’t it interesting that essentially nobody has suggested the one thing he could not control, which might have caused him to not make the attempt: allow armed students and faculty, or post armed guards in each building. He put thought into his madness, to preclude interference by anyone who was armed. If he knew there might be armed people in every room, would he have even tried?

  7. granted no one knows I have it in the first place.


  8. Current university in Texas refused to opt in to SB 11. School was polled and 51% of students were in favor. Regents and admin was against it largely. It’s funny, I went to the informational session and then later to the group “discussion”. Long story short it was basically a session for them to tell the student body and myself “you’re not going to carry, deal with it.”
    One of the school’s security reps was supposedly ex secret service and essentially tried to “rationalize” with me what would happen if I wrongly shot someone or if someone got ahold of my weapon. I responded that I would be accountable for any and all damages caused by that weapon. Tried asking me what would happen if it were an active shooter situation and I was mistaken as the bad guy. Told him that I’ve already made that decision (he didn’t like that answer either). He even went as far as to ask what would happen if I left my piece in the bathroom (kinda like the secret service has done in the past no?) but chose not to give him or anyone else any reason to look at the pro gun side with any more animus.

    Long story short: my private central Texas university doesn’t seem to understand (or is being antagonistic) the ramifications when they say that we cannot carry on campus.

  9. Concealed means concealed. I attend a public university in Missouri and can safely say, with evidence, that a statistically significant portion of the student body and staff carry. Of course, this is on the engineering side of things. The campus is NOT posted as gun-free ANYWHERE, and Missouri law explicitly legalizes storing weapons in vehicles on campus. I don’t personally carry anything more than a pocketknife, and a fixed blade stuffed in a backpack, but campus is small enough that getting off quickly is very easy. Give me ten minutes or less and I’ve retrieved a combat shotgun from my truck. Local law enforcement is very small and has a questionable overall presence- guaranteed, the first response to any incident will be by armed students, staff, or bystanders. There was a credible threat of an attack last fall; I and others responded by staying in “ready” positions near campus for several hours, with long guns in vehicles and readily accessible. I also have a VHF tactical radio in my truck programmed with local LEO and emergency frequencies.

  10. BYU asks me for money every year. This year I sent the university president a hand-written letter explaining that I would not support them until they respected the right to keep and bear arms. No reply.

    • Was it the phone call or the email or the mailer? We had the opposite issue – I told them we would not donate while Samuelson was president and they actually stopped calling.

      I am torn about carrying to church – I know policy says no, and I try to honor the stated preferences of those whose homes, businesses, and facilities I visit if I am given ample notice, but they don’t post any signage (which in TX means I can carry).
      There’s a cop in another ward and she specifically doesn’t carry to church, either…

  11. On body is pretty risky if they’ve made it clear that your ass is gone if they see you with a piece. Too easy for your shirt to get hiked up putting on a backpack or something. BUT why would they ever search your car? Choppa’s for days, son.

    • I’ve never seen anyone get their car searched but the parking tag you hang from your rear view mirror has a no gun sign on it.

  12. Someone reported you for looking at a picture of a gun? If I shake my head any more it’ll fall off.

    • yeah, don’t remember what I was reading that day. All I know is one day I’m reading either TTAG or TFB and the next I get an email from a school admin that the dean is requesting to speak with me. I go in and he says someone filed a complaint against me for looking at assault rifles.


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