Students take sides on firearms

A March survey of Mercyhurst University students showed that the majority of students support issuing firearms to Police and Safety officers, Professor Gerry Tobin, Ph.D., recently told MSG.

Despite this, some students still several who have qualms with the possibility of Police and Safety being permitted to carry firearms.

Out of 96 votes on this week’s poll, 34 percent agree they would feel safer on campus if Police and Safety officers carried firearms and 35 percent believe there would need to be proper training and procedure for it to be useful.

Caleb Ohmer, English and political science major and MSG vice president, saw both sides of the argument, saying “I’m hesitant approve of a jump to lethal force, when there non-lethal alternatives available…But I can still see the necessity of keeping our students safe at all costs. With the Virginia Tech and even Sandy Hook shootings, in recent memory, it has become clear that educational environments are becoming more and more dangerous.”

Some students feel more protected knowing that Police and Safety may be able to carry guns.

Intelligence Studies student Lauren Watson said, “I would feel safer if Police and Safety were able to carry guns.

“No matter where you go in town, there is the possibility of a maniac who might want to hurt people. And in all these places there are armed police officers who have the ability to protect you. Why should Mercyhurst be any different?” she asked.

Zachary Yost, also a political science major, believes that even regular police shouldn’t carry firearms and campus police shouldn’t follow suit.

Yost said, “I do not believe that the threshold to justify employing deadly force is high enough among regular police. To me, the best policy seems to be for campus security to have access to firearms but that they are only carried in extreme circumstances and not to bust up a dorm party or walk around campus.”

Still, many students feel threatened by the introduction of guns into their life on campus. Criminal Justice major Mallorie Kaput said, “Mercyhurst is a small campus, and I really don’t feel that we have many threats. I only see the possibility for unfortunate accidents with Police and Safety getting guns.”

Ian Mills, Intelligence Studies and Political Science major said, “I don’t see the need to give Police and Safety guns when the Erie Police Department already is in close proximity to campus.”