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Get off the fence! (courtesy

A reader writes re: Fencing Team Banned From North Dakota State University Because Of ‘Weapons Policy [via]:

I’m an atypical gun enthusiast, but feel at home and welcome in the world you’ve created to discuss broader gun rights and personal autonomy. There’s been a lot of coverage of college students that defend themselves with firearms, from the citation of the Piers Morgan “cite a time an ar-15 was used for defense” and onwards. North Dakota State University [NDSU] is a very conservative state, and has a lot of love for firearms, but their ideas of personal liberty are not as expansive as might first seem apparent. I came from an anti-gun family, so I started off with other weapons and eventually found my way to firearms, so this issue is near and dear to my heart. Full disclosure- fencing lead me to question whether weapons and discipline improve personal character . . .

Here’s the statement from the once and former fencing coach Enrique Alvarez.

“The current interpretation of the non-weapon policy in NDSU…understands our fencing equipment as weapons,” says the club’s coach Enrique Alvarez.

Alvarez has been fencing since his early teens. He says despite their appearance, the foils, epees and sabers they use don’t have sharp edges or points.

“This is a spring and a flat tip that if you press the spring against the body of the other person, will be awarded a point,” he demonstrates.

Nonetheless, NDSU’s Police and Safety Office Director Ray Boyer cited the school’s policy manual and Code of Student Behavior, saying sabers and swords are prohibited on campus:

“They are deemed weapons, and as such, possession or use on University owned or controlled property is prohibited,” he says.

Would it be possible for you to post something about this, about how gun freedom doesn’t necessarily mean freedom from hoplophobia? The policy cites even training swords which are laughably weak as “weapons” and “perceptions of danger” with such weapons.

This is not a red/blue issue, as this is happening in North Dakota, but a statist/non-statist, personal liberty issue. ROTC is allowed to operate whereas simple fencing is not. This is outrageous, so far backwards I don’t have words for it, and enraging. I’d love to engage the greater firearms community to rally to the defense of the martial freedoms, whether freedom to wrestle, fence, or shoot.

Best Regards,
A concerned fencer to firearms owner

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  1. I fenced in High School and this policy is outrageous. A practice saber is basically a thin strip of metal with no point or weight.

  2. All Schools should ban Pencils & Ball point pens, since they are OFTEN used as weapons in a fight.

      • And a shot put was used as a weapon of war. All of the “original” Olympic sports revolved around martial arts.

        • Just the spikes on the shoes are dangers enough. I have been spiked on several occasions. Luckily I am a distance runner and distance runners don’t get spiked as much as sprinters.

  3. also a former fencer here.


    wonder what their position on the caber toss would be?

  4. Good old academia! Why people continue to pay good money to become less intelligent is beyond me.

    Lets just call them what they are…Socialist reeducation camps.

    • Because most people want to make more than minimum wage all their life. It’s not like all colleges are the same anyway when it comes to the political orientation of their staff, plus it’s not a requirement to adhere to a certain philosophy to be admitted.

  5. I love fencing. That’s ridiculous. To be honest, I’ve always thought that no self respecting gentleman should be without his Saber and a brace of pistols.

  6. I suppose if you broke a fencing blade (an epeé would probably be the best choice) in just the right way, it could become a dangerous weapon.

    Have they banned baseball bats yet? Those are basically clubs, and far deadlier than any fencing blade.

    • I did that once: My cheap abused student foil broke on my opponent as they lunged in a bit too aggressively, and the jagged new tip went through his neck guard and out the other side. Missed him completely, but his shock made him stagger back and grasp at his neck like he was dying (well, I think he played it up a bit) with my foil still stuck through his neck. Gave everybody a good scare, followed by a good laugh. One-in-a-million thing, though. Most you can usually do with a foil is give someone a good lashing across the knuckles.

      • Safety equipment and blade forging methods changed dramatically after that incident, maraging steel blades became common, and the durability and safety of masks and jackets increased dramatically. I don’t believe there’s been a death in competitive fencing since then. And that was pretty much a fluke.

  7. In the Utopian world, violence has been eradicated, and all forms of it (use of force for self defense is violence used in a positive way), is deemed unacceptable behavior. All fighting arts are, no matter how time honored or traditional, are considered barbaric and unfit for the modern human. This is the Brave New World. If that is the future of humanity I will gladly remain a Neanderthal.

    • In the perfect Utopian world where all violence has been eradicated, it would not matter what time honored or traditional fighting arts were maintained, trained, or taught to any members of society who were interested – it would be a perfect Utopian world where all violence has been eradicated and any harm, direct or collateral, from the time honored or traditional fighting arts and those who wished to participate in them would be accidental and most likely less than from other less well controlled sporting activities.
      Until such time as the perfect Utopian world where all violence has been eradicated is achieved, those time honored or traditional fighting arts, as well as modern self defense technologies, (Han Solo’s blaster comes to mind) will serve the honest citizens much better than any hope or wish for a possible perfect Utopian world in the face of reality…

  8. Do the halls of the math/physics dept. still use a compass to determine radius and drawing a perfect circle? We had them in middle school (very pointy and loaded with a No. 2 Ticonderoga honed to a perfect point, very dangerous). Somehow we survived.
    Sadly, the wussification of this country continues undaunted and rarely challenged. I thought SD might have had some “normal” folks at their Universities.
    But the halls of academe is a festering boil of progressive collectivist statism.

  9. ND is part of the late 1800s progressive/populist dimwit movement of the upper Midwest. (See also MN, WI, IA, etc.) More than a hundred years of useless marxists elected to office. Daschle, Harkin, Franken.

    And this is obviously the alternative “reality” of the college campus.

    Perhaps the newly created ND Oil barons need to rut out these morons/nonsense.

  10. This is not a red/blue issue, as this is happening in North Dakota, but a statist/non-statist, personal liberty issue.

    Hmmmm…….No….. I’d bet my dinner money that the vast majority of admins that put this policy in place are in fact registered Democrat.

    The university campus is the least free place in the United States.

  11. Dumb people make dumb policies… especially when those people are on a committee and think they know more than others.

    • The Leftist faith = A select group is smarter than the masses

      And the Left thinks that they don’t believe in religion.

  12. Wow. Just wow. This may be the dumbest s@$t I’ve ever seen. So I guess the rifle team is outLOL.

  13. I survived four years on my high school fencing team in NJ, where it is most popular and intense. Four seasons of steel blades flying around and breaking everywhere, and the worst I ever saw or felt was the occasional shot to the cojones. My foil squad and I walked away from every bout and tournament just fine, along with the rest of the team. I remember my coach telling me about policies like this one; sad to know they’re actually true. What a heap of Scheiße.

  14. How does this stupid rule get applied seriously with a straight face to the fencing team?

    What complete f’ing morons.

  15. As a former collegiate fencer (saber and foil), I find this to be the height of stupidity. One is much more likely to be injured on a baseball, soccer or football field than on a fencing strip. Foils, epees and sabers are not “weapons,” they are derived from weapons, made safe so someone can learn the sport without getting injured or killed. Since the progenitor of this policy is a campus cop, I think a chat with the Dean/Chancellor/President of the university is in order.

  16. NDSU Alumni here, won’t be sending them another dime until this is changed. Either that, or they need to ban baseball and softball as sports at the school. That, and I wonder if the ROTC still shoots the 1911’s in .22lr in the basement range of the old field house like they did in my day…

    • Excellent point. Speaking as a former fencer, a baseball bat is a far more dangerous “weapon” than a foil.

      • Can you imagine the damage the blades of those hockey skates can cause? I have seen some major lacerations from them by caused by accidents.

    • And if they REALLY want to ban dangerous weapons, they need to ban cars and trucks from the campus. Ever get hit by an F-150? Makes a .45 seem wussy.

  17. The whole “well they’re not really weapons” thing does not sit well with me, since that carries an undertone of “it’s only okay if they’re not really weapons”, which means that it’s okay to ban things that *are* weapons…

    We ought to be able to have guns. And swords, and nunchucks, and everything in between.

    • The point with that is to highlight the extreme level of derp in the statement. Granted, the bubble under the logical wallpaper will move towards “they’re ok since they’re not weapons,” but that does not mean it’s implied by the “not weapons” response.

  18. You can stab me all day long, as enthusiastically as you want, and I’ll be fine (though annoyed that you scored so many points). Stab me once with a pencil and I’ll be on my way to the hospital. In this case, the pen actually is mightier than the sword.

  19. Jeeze, a football or baseball thrown in the right place could do harm, oops and a kick ball too. Let’s see the military on base can’t carry, our college students can’t be expected to defend themselves, our public can’t go to shows packing. Why don’t we stop going to the theaters, send our kids to private education and don’t go into the military, who is going to save these stupid liberals. Let them carry the ball, which they can’t. They can’t get there head out of there A_ _. Keep up the good fight, they are bound to fail, they are known as losers!

  20. NDSU’s Police and Safety Office Director Ray Boyer needs to have his head examined. A fencing foil can only be used as a weapon if you hit someone on the head with the hilt. Amazing that such a fearmonger was hired to run the Police and Safety Office. Does he hide under his desk every morning?

  21. I have a thought, lets give administration training swords and let the fencing team have at them with hammers, pipe wrenches and ball bats, then let them re-determine what is and is not a weapon.

    Seriously though, ND? This sounds more like California than North Dakota. Then again, I suppose no matter where it is a University is a no logic zone.

    Back when I was in college there was a no guns for students policy that somehow was supposed to apply even if you lived off campus. I suppose that by agreeing to pay them for a degree one also had to surrender the rights enumerated under the 2nd and 4th amendments. The rule was largely ignored since, in classic academic form it was completely unenforceable.

    The same university, 15 years later, went after a tenured professor in an attempt to force him to remove a revolutionary war era musket from his office wall where it had hung for a couple of decades, somehow without jumping down and killing anyone.

    What if we, the AI and the POTG formed our own university and chartered it so that everyone’s rights remain intact when at the university and in such a way that political correctness is actively resisted. Call it the offend one person per day clause and insist that every student and faculty member say at least one insensitive thing per day so that everyone gets to experience what being mildly offended feels like and doesn’t freak out about it any more.

    I suggest we forgo traditional sports and have instead only martial sports: Grappling, Boxing, MMA, fencing and various shooting disciplines. There used to be something sort of like this a little ways back . . .the Spartans called such an institution the Agoge: A school where one learns the martial arts, patriotism and appropriate socialization. You never know, it might catch on.

    • “I have a thought, lets give administration training swords and let the fencing team have at them with hammers, pipe wrenches and ball bats, then let them re-determine what is and is not a weapon. ”

      Hammers, pipe wrenches, and ball bats? Geez, give them a chance! A man in good condition could probably go against a fencing foil with his bare hands! Well, bare hands and shod feet. Or bare hands, shod feet, and a stapler. 😉

  22. If you would like to convey your opinion directly to Mr. Boyer (which everyone should). His phone number is 701-231-6539 and e-mail is [email protected].I just left him a message thanking him for saving us the time or trouble of considering NDSU as an option for my son’s college education due to this rediculous policy.

  23. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, interrogative, over?

    Living in the UK we usually (and pretty much rightly) consider ourselves poor relations in the personal armament stakes compared to the US… but I fence (for the Royal Navy no less! just not very well… but it’s fun…) and my sabre goes where I go on days when I’ll end up in the gym at TEMERAIRE for an evening’s coaching. It’s currently under my desk at work, for example, and the only reaction it provoked was friendly interest.

    I know this story documents a rare, isolated, outbreak of stupid, I hope and pray it can be contained and the surviving victims make a full recovery… but seriously, I can only adapt a quote from Boswell that seems to fit the circumstances.

    “Why, Sir, Boyer is dull, naturally dull; but it must have taken him a great deal of pains to become what we now see him. Such an excess of stupidity, Sir, is not in Nature. “

  24. Before we make a blanket condemnation of NDSU, I think we should err on the side of caution.

    After all, these fencing implements may be those high capacity, assault-type gizmos with things that go up.

    … for the children.

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