3:51 PM EDT, October 12, 2011
A recent opinion from Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has re-sparked the debate over guns on college campuses.
Cuccinelli's opinion said that a university would need specific regulations in order to restrict concealed weapons permit holders from carry guns inside university buildings.
Virginia Tech wants no guns on its campus.
“Quite simply, we don't think guns belong in classrooms. It’s that simple,” said Larry Hincker, with Virginia Tech University Relations.
Students and staff are banned from carrying weapons on campus.
“I don't think you need them on campus. There has never been a time when I've needed a gun on campus,” said Jordan Spiers, a Virginia Tech Senior.
Virginia Tech can not restrict visitors from carrying guns in any outdoor space. Virginia is an open-carry state and guns, concealed or not, can be carried on all public land (Virginia Tech is a public university).
But Tech does have a policy that restricts visitors, those with concealed weapons permits, from bringing their guns inside campus buildings.
Attorney General Cuccinelli's recent opinion said that a "policy" isn't enough. He says if a university wants to restrict concealed weapons inside it's building, the university must pass a specific, tighter, regulation.
“We believe concealed handgun holders should be allowed to carry them on campus. There is nothing magic about campus, it's just a bunch of buildings and some land,” said Philip Van Cleave.
Philip Van Cleave is the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. His organization is threatening to protest at any university considering passing a regulation restricting permit holders.
“The university can't protect every single student,” said Van Cleave. “But if a student is capable of protecting themselves, they should not be barred from doing so. It's just totally wrong.”
Students at Virginia Tech seem split on the gun-issue.
“I come from a small town,” said freshman Channing Mitchell. “And to be on a big campus it makes me feel a lot safer knowing that Virginia Tech is thinking of passing something like this.”
“I walk the line, kind of,” said alumnus Lee Hawkins. “I understand both parts of the argument and I just kind of default for, why allow anyone to carry weapons?”
“With everything that went down, I understand why some people feel like they need a weapon,” said senior Connor McManus. "I feel like if you have to go through a bunch of regulations, then you should be able to carry concealed weapon if you really feel the safety need to do so.”
Virginia Tech's governing body, the Board of Visitors, will make the final decision. It meets next month. The gun issue is not on their agenda yet.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League is working with several student groups to plan a protest on Virginia Tech’s campus in the next few weeks.
The VCDL says it will protest at every university in the state that wants to further restrict guns on campus.
The VCDL’s strategy is: No Guns, No Funds. They're asking alumni to stop making donations to universities that further restrict guns.
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