“[Denying teachers, administrators, adult-students, and visitors the right to carry at the university] will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.”
– Virginia Tech VP Larry Hincker
This quote never fails to make my blood boil.
It is the perfect example of feel-good legislation that makes for good sound bites while actually harming those it purports to protect. And I have to believe that he knew it was less-than useless even as he was speaking. You will note that he was very careful to use the phrase “feel safe” rather than any assurance of actual safety.
Because it certainly didn’t make them “actually safe.” Just a little over a year later, on a cold, sad Monday in April, Virginia Tech senior Seung Hui Cho went on a rampage that cost the lives of 32 of the Commonwealth’s best and brightest young people and sent a nation into mourning.
One of those we lost was Leslie Sherman. Last year, on the 5th anniversary of Cho’s attack, Leslie’s mother Holly Adams courageously spoke out about what could have been done to protect her daughter and the other innocents at Virginia Tech that day. And she laid the blame squarely on the shoulders of those who denied the right to self-defense on campus.
“Because professors, staff and students are precluded from protecting themselves on campus, Cho, a student at Virginia Tech himself, was able to simply walk on campus and go on a killing rampage with no worry that anyone would stop him.”
And a jury agreed with her, holding that a university has a “special relationship” with students such that the students can expect to be reasonably protected. In such a case, forbidding such basic personal protection options to students will almost certainly give rise to future lawsuits against Virginia’s colleges and universities.
But despite the harsh lesson learned at Virginia Tech and the very real threat of future lawsuits, more and more of Virginia’s public colleges and universities have been passing regulations banning carry on campus after Attorney General Cuccinelli issued an opinion that university policies do not overrule state-issued concealed carry permits but properly promulgated regulations, which have the force and effect of law, do.
Since then, we have seen a flood of public colleges and universities passing regulations to the extent allowed under Digiacinto v. The Rector and Visitors of George Mason University. And it isn’t hard for them to do so. Virginia gives colleges and universities fast-track regulatory powers that they have used to great effect in ramming these regulations through with little or no due process or public comment.
And that brings us to today’s update. Sadly, last Friday, the Radford University Board of Visitors voted to join this trend. The vote was 9 to 5 with Rectors Linda K. Whitley-Taylor, Nancy Artis, Brandon Bell, Mary Waugh Campbell, Sandra Davis, Kevin Dye, Darius Johnson, Ruby Rogers, and Georgia Ann Snyder-Falkinham voting in favor of the ban.
The regulation will go into effect as soon as the final regulation is published in the Virginia Register.