- Reid Silva,
Midwest director of Students for Concealed Carry
NORMAL- It is late at night. After a hard day’s work you have come home to your spouse and children to enjoy a relaxing evening watching your favorite movie. Just as you are getting settled in, you hear glass break by your back door, and when you go to investigate you see two armed men entering the back of your house. The time has come to ask yourself the question that most people pray they will never have to answer. Are you prepared to defend your home and family?
This was the question David Swann of Waynesville, Ill. had to ask himself. When two men tried to break into his house, he retrieved his firearm to drive them out.
“It was kind of one of those situations where I had to do what I had to keep myself safe. It's my constitutional right to bear arms," said Swann.
Swann was one of the lucky ones. He kept a firearm in his house and was trained to use it in a way that probably saved his life. Far too often though, people are either unprepared, or do not possess a firearm. This is raising concern amongst college student’s parents, particularly the rural based, about the safety of their child that they will no longer be around to protect.
“It scares the hell out of me,” said Daryl Wenskunas, a father who was moving his daughter, who will be starting ISU in the fall, into an apartment. “I have always been there to protect her. I am making her hold onto my .22 [caliber pistol], I don’t know what would happen if someone came in.”
Another student, who lives in the same building is confident that he could control such a situation.
“I keep a loaded handgun by my bed,” said Illinois Wesleyan student Robbie Musgrave. “If somebody ever broke down the door, I would take care of business.”
The recent alert of ISU students being held up at knifepoint has raised several questions about what students can do to defend themselves, and what exactly their rights are.
In the state of Illinois, residents must be 21 years old to own a handgun, and 18 to own a long gun. Although most students fall into one of these categories, students who live in dorms at ISU, or in other student housing, are not allowed to have firearms. Even though the dorms may be more secure from burglars than your average apartment, one must ask the question, shouldn’t you still be allowed to defend your home? One group thinks so.
Students for Concealed Carry is one of the leading advocacy groups for student gun rights. In addition to fighting bans on students keeping guns in dorms, they are fighting to allow students to carry a concealed weapon on their person for the purpose of defending themselves. This student-run organization works off of campaign slogans such as “Disarming the good guys won’t stop the bad guys,” in an effort to raise awareness on the issue of campus safety.
Reid Silva, the Midwest director for the organization, believes that student gun rights are being ignored, even in the pursuit of standard gun rights.
“The issue is that campuses can be a dangerous place, and students aren’t always adequately prepared. It doesn’t help that in most states, even the ones that allow its residents to carry a concealed weapon, suspend these rights on campuses,” Silva explained.
Illinois has some of the strictest gun laws of any state, but these laws do constitutionally protect anyone defending their family or dwelling. As the issue of campus and student safety continues to be debated, the question is still raised of whether you can, in your current situation, defend yourself. It is the official position of the National Rifle Association that anyone who is of age, should own something for self-defense, and with the growing crime rate on campuses, many students are asking themselves if they would rather be a gun owner, or a victim.