Jul 16, 11:57 AM EDT
Gun rights activists: Firearms ban would make MSU more dangerous
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) -- Montana State University plans to restrict firearms and ban concealed weapons from campus, steps that gun-rights activists argue would make students more vulnerable if a Virginia Tech-style gunman were to threaten the MSU campus.
In April, a mentally disturbed Virginia Tech student shot and killed 32 people in a dorm and classroom building before killing himself.
"The only thing a gun-banning policy will accomplish is to insure that this madman has a pool of defenseless victims to kill, that he will encounter no effective resistance as he carves a swath of death through the MSU campus," wrote Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association.
MSU received nearly 100 comments on the proposed update of its weapons policy and only about two supported the proposed weapons restrictions, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Monday.
The overwhelming majority, about 70, agreed with Marbut that banning concealed weapons and restricting firearms would make the campus more dangerous.
"Had there been more loaded guns in view, and accessible, the carnage at VA Tech could have been either completely averted or minimized, not by a brave professor using his own body as a shield, but by a responsible adult student with a concealed weapons permit," wrote Danielle D. Emery of Billings.
T.J. Reeder of Helena was more blunt, asking, "When will you issue the T-shirts with the bullseyes (and) a flashing light saying 'Shoot me!! I'm unarmed!'"
On the other hand, MSU Police Chief Robert Putzke said he is an NRA member and generally supports concealed weapons permits, but not on campus.
Putzke said he doubts that allowing concealed weapons on campus would deter a shooter, because "they're so intent on what they're going to do." An active shooter situation is usually chaotic, the chief said, and any student trying to stop a gunman might not have the skill to do it.
"What if one or two of your shots went wild and shot one or two students?" Putzke asked.
MSU's biggest crime problem is theft of students' property, including computers, cell phones, iPods, books and bikes, Putzke said. A high number of students don't lock up their property, so if they had concealed weapons, his concern is that "we might see a lot of theft of firearms, that might be used in a crime."
MSU announced in June that in light of the Virginia Tech shootings it would update its weapons policy, look into a campus-wide emergency notification system and consider how to keep people secure inside buildings.
MSU officials said the new weapons policy would ban a specific list of weapons, including rifles, shotguns, handguns, knives with blades 4 inches or longer, explosives, swords, nunchucks, throwing stars and other martial arts weapons, crossbows, compound bows, recurve bows, BB guns, paintball guns, dangerous chemicals, real-looking toy guns and pepper spray - except for small, personal-sized pepper spray dispensers, which would not be banned.
Cathy Conover, university spokeswoman, said no decision has been made on whether to alter the proposed policy in light of the public comments.