Last April, shortly after 2 p.m., a student’s handgun went off in the hallway of the Physical Education building. This has led to speculation among many students as to whether guns should be allowed on campus or not.
UVU President Holland emphasized that while the security of students is the “utmost importance,” the Second Amendment needs to be honored.
UVU’s concealed carry policy reflects this mindset. The policy states that UVU follows state law in regards to weapons on campus, which is weapons are not allowed “except under certain conditions.” These certain conditions are that the student has a concealed carry permit and that the rearm is being concealed carried. For a weapon to be concealed, it must be hidden on one’s person or under their control, such as in a backpack.
While it may make some students uncomfortable to have their fellow Wolverines walking around with guns on campus, doing so is a constitutionally protected right. Also, these gun-toting students must be licensed to carry their rearm. However, concealed carry classes often do not cover basic safety tips that could have prevented the incident April 25.
Everything I’m about to talk about is based on my own experiences, as well as those of others I’ve talked to, while taking a concealed carry course.
In this case, the handgun was in a student’s backpack, in a holster, when it went off. There are a couple of things that must have happened for this incident to take place.
First, there must have been a round in the chamber. There are several reasons that this may have happened, but most likely the owner wanted to be prepared. The argument can be made that if you carry a gun that’s not ready to re, you might as well carry a brick instead. But this argument doesn’t make sense. With a bit of repetitive training a gun owner can become proficient in pulling back the slide to chamber a round, an action that takes mere seconds. This isn’t the Wild West, and odds are that the extra two seconds you save from having a round ready to go will not make an impact on any gunfight that may erupt.
The second thing that must have happened is that the trigger must have been fully pulled for the gun to re, which is a safety feature in modern guns. For the April 25 incident, this means one of two things: either the gun did not have a proper holster or it was not properly holstered. If the wrong holster was used, the handgun would not have been snugly and securely in place, allowing for foreign objects to get near the trigger, which could have allowed it to be pulled. If the gun wasn’t properly holstered, the same thing could have happened.
The third problem is that the gun was stored in the student’s backpack. If stored properly, this wouldn’t be an issue. However, based on the two previous points it’s fairly obvious that the hand-gun was not being properly stored. Also, to retouch on point one, having a handgun stored in a backpack negates any time saving that may have happened by having a round chambered.
This incident highlights the bigger issue at hand: the lack of proper training provided by concealed carry classes. While the individual training received in these classes varies by instructor, it is usually inadequate in regards to proper storage and handling of a rearm. Often, the only gun safety that is covered is practicing how to not accidentally point a gun at another person. Proper storage, how to select the proper holster for a gun, what situations are appropriate to pull a gun and basic marksmanship qualifications are not covered.
We have a constitutionally protected right to carry weapons, and Utah state law protects our right to carry them on UVU campus under the assumption that certain qualifications are met. It is our responsibility, as both gun owners and students, to make sure that we have the proper training to carry and use these weapons safely. Just having a card that says we can carry a weapon does not mean that we have the qualifications, either in skill or judgement, to do so.