Ohio law is somewhat odd when it comes to the issue of carrying on a college or university campus. Concealed carry is forbidden, unless the university authorizes it, while open carry is generally allowed only for non-students and staff, and only “in spaces where an individual has a right to be, by virtue of local, state and federal laws, and university policy”. In other words, campus carry doesn’t exist in Ohio, though concealed carry holders who work or attend class at Ohio State University can at least lock their legally-owned and lawfully carried firearm in their car thanks to a lawsuit filed by Ohio Students for Concealed Carry a few years ago. That’s a minor improvement to the carry prohibition, but it generally only impacts those concealed carry holders who commute to their classes on campus, who can now at least have a firearm on their way to and from the university.
If gun control worked, all of these restrictions on legal gun owners should be keeping the campus crime free, right? Instead, as the parent of one Ohio State University freshman writes, it’s becoming an increasingly serious problem.
Since I moved my son into his dorm at The Ohio State University on Aug. 18, he’s had email alerts from OSU of 11 reported incidents of violence against students — the majority of which involved students being robbed at gunpoint — and yet more reported in the parents’ Facebook groups for which alerts weren’t sent. With over 60,000 students at OSU, I want to know why we aren’t having a national conversation about gun crime at Ohio’s biggest university.
On Saturday afternoon, Sept. 11, I received an alert that police were on the scene of a shooting on campus, outside Drinko Hall. I Googled the distance between Drinko Hall and my son’s dorm. One thousand feet. I texted my son, “You okay?” He was. An email release from the university later revealed that the mother of a student had been shot in the leg while walking with friends in broad daylight.
I’m curious to know why Jo Varnish isn’t raising hell about the university apparently failing to alert students to some violent crimes occurring on campus, but she’s apparently decided to focus on pushing for reforms that she believes will make the campus safer. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include campus carry.
I joined a group called Buckeyes For A Safe Ohio State. Formed by four concerned mothers in the wake of the shooting death of OSU student Chase Meola last year, the group is focused on pressing the university to implement, in full, the November 2020 recommendations of the OSU safety task force established after Meola’s murder.
In particular, the task force recommendation to increase staffing of the OSU Police Department “to allow for 24/7 coverage of one OSU joint patrol officer with Columbus Police Department in the University District” has yet to materialize. With the majority of students living off-campus, the group is pushing for a holistic approach: a collaboration between the local authorities and the university to protect students living in the University District, where on Thursday, Sept. 16, there was a shooting death, marking the 150th homicide in Columbus this year.
Even if the campus police department was fully staffed (as it should be), that’s not going to be enough to prevent every violent crime. Students and faculty should still be able to protect themselves, both on campus and on their way to and from classes, but that’s impossible thanks to the current rules at Ohio State University.
Under Ohio law, the university’s regents could change those rules at any time if they chose to do so. Given the anti-gun leanings of academia, however, we all know that’s not going to happen. It’s going to take the legislature and governor to get behind a campus carry bill like those that are already in place in nearly a dozen states around the country to ensure that those who spend time on the campus of the Ohio State University don’t have to do so disarmed and defenseless from the violent criminals who see the university as a low-risk/high-reward hunting ground.