Crimes against Georgia Tech students renew interest in carrying guns on campus

7:15 AM, Jul 4, 2012   |    comments
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(File Photo)

ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech students, worried about their safety, wonder when -- not if -- armed robbers will strike again and hold-up another one of them, on campus or off campus.

It is because of the recent string of armed robberies that many students want to carry their own guns on campus.

In the past month, the crimes against Tech students have renewed interest in groups like Georgia Tech Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.

Two of the leaders of Georgia Tech Students for Concealed Carry on Campus are Robert Eagar and Kyle Wilkins.

"Over the last couple of weeks, we've seen an increase in online activity," Eagar said Tuesday. "People have approached us through our Facebook page, offering support. We've received offers of support from people who have children here at Tech."

Since last year, the group has been conducting petition drives and trying to change state law to authorize people 21 and older to carry concealed weapons on campus, just like they can off campus.

"One foot away from campus they're perfectly responsible in the eyes of the state law," Eagar said. "But the second they step onto campus boundaries, they're no longer capable of maintaining their gun safety?"

"Criminals know that students are unarmed, carrying $1,000 laptops, cell phones, text books," Wilkins said. "They know that they don't have the ability to fight back legally."

It's not that any Georgia Tech students want to shoot it out with an armed robber over a watch or a laptop (unless they believe their lives are in immediate danger). 

But some say they just want the criminals to think that students might be carrying their own guns on campus, believing that would be a deterrent.

"If it's known that they can have weapons, then they're not as vulnerable if they're alone," said Kellie Fair, a first year student. "If not firearms, then at least Tasers, because as of right now, we're not allowed to carry Tasers or any firearms. But I think that, definitely in terms of safety, it's a good idea."

Other students want police to crack down more on armed criminals on and near campus. They want Tech to remain a gun-free zone.

"For a person that might snap one day, who can carry a gun on campus if it's allowed, I'd be scared for my life, honestly," said Edward Kong, a fourth year student. "I mean, for the most part, I really think people could carry guns on campus if they have the proper training. But there's always that one person that you just don't know about that could just surprise you any one day, like what happened at Virginia Tech a couple years ago."

"Well I guess if someone's going to snap, they would bring a gun anyway," said Ben McBurnett, a third year student. "Why would it matter whether or not they're allowed to? So I don't have a problem with students carrying guns on campus."

"In the past six years of allowing concealed carry on Utah's state schools campuses, not a single student who has a concealed weapons permit who has been carrying his gun legally on campus has done anything inappropriate or illegal with his gun during that time period," Eagar said. 

"If I'm packing, and then the criminals are packing, then, guess what? Now who's going to shoot who?" said Damon Johnson last December when he went to one of the petition drives the advocates were conducting, and he engaged them in debate. "We have enough cops. And if they can't solve the problem, then carrying guns is not going to solve the problems. It's just going to encourage more crime, it's going to encourage more problems."

The debate will only intensify in the next six to nine months as the legislature is sure to reconsider legalizing guns on college campuses in Georgia.

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