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New Gun Locker on Campus Continues to Face Challenge

by: Robbie Keefe
PUBLISHED: 5 December 2011 5 Comments

At Hampden-Sydney College, students enjoy many liberties that many other schools outright ban. Take allowing guns on campus, for example.  Allowing guns on campus poses a potential threat to security, yet our school allows students to have guns under certain conditions.  Any student who chooses to bring a firearm or bow must register them with the school and must also keep them in the gun locker. Nonetheless, there are some who choose to keep their guns close at hand in their dorm rooms.

For those of unfamiliar with the gun locker, it is a storage place for weapons and ammunition located in the police headquarters.  This year is the first year the gun locker is located in the Security Office. Before that, it had been located in the basement of the Carp Z dorms. The location was moved for multiple reasons. 

Students had extreme difficulty accessing the gun locker because the key card lock, which was supposed to let them in any time, would often malfunction. This would mean a student would have to call the station then wait for an officer to come down and unlock it for them. They would then have to call the station again to return the gun.  This would cause discontent amongst students and was a factor in the decision to relocate the locker.  As a result of minor inconveniences like this, students have started keeping guns in their rooms causing a safety risk for other students.

 Chief Gee pointed out some other reasons for moving the location, which include the safety of the campus, safety for the students, and safekeeping of the weapons.  The administration had personal interest in moving the location because no one was able to keep watch over the locker and felt that leaving it unattended posed security risks. 

One student weighed in on the topic of registering guns versus keeping them in rooms saying that the gun locker is not only a hassle to use when you want to go shooting or hunting, but it is also bad for guns because the wet wood the locker is made out of allows moisture to seep into the guns over time.  He also said he is tempted to keep his gun in his car or room because he has had difficulty with the police when trying to get his gun because of lost keys. Other times, no one is around to unlock the locker.

Though it is not a common occurrence, other students have made this complaint as well. Chief Gee responded to this observation by saying, “the locker is in excellent shape, but a big factor is the unexpected heat and humidity of this fall; however, we have a solution for this when it starts to get warm again.” The police department is installing a dehumidifier and using other chemicals to absorb moisture before it gets to the guns. 

Another student gave some alternate ideas for future gun locker plans assuming the locker was relocated or updated to function more smoothly.  One idea he had was to build multiple gun lockers and station one near all the dorms to improve convenience and efficiency.  Unfortunately, this idea would be difficult to put into practice because of price and the lack of supervision for all the lockers across campus.  The cost of building the current locker was around $7000, even though Chief Gee’s original plan only cost $2000.  Building more lockers around campus could result in other plans going over budget, and then money spent building extra lockers would have to be taken away from other funds, such as those set aside for academic purposes. 

Chief Gee also gave more insight into the behind-the-scene issues involving guns on campus. “I don’t mind having guns on campus the way its set up now, but I have a yearly battle at the General Assembly about allowing people to carry concealed guns on campus.”  This would mean that students would be allowed to carry concealed weapons in class rooms, dorm rooms, and other places like the fraternity circle.  Arguments for concealed guns use the Virginia Tech shooting as an example.  They claim that had students been carrying concealed weapons at the specific time, they could have stopped the shootings before innocent people were killed.  Chief Gee points out that if the police were to walk into a room after someone had killed or shot the original gunman, Chief Gee and his team would most likely “pop” the one with the smoking gun before the situation could be settled. 

Situations like this are why the administration has to be careful with students bringing guns to school and keeping them in their dorm.  Keeping guns in dorm rooms could eventually lead to the banning of guns on campus for good, especially if it becomes a pressing issue with campus security.  Several students have already been caught this year with guns in their rooms.

Everyone can be assured the freedom to keep guns on campus if they abide by the requirement. After all Chief Gee and many other students could not come up with a better way or place to store the guns.  Along with being able to track the usage of registered guns on campus, the police station gun locker ensures that student’s guns will also be protected from theft and kept in good condition.

It is a large responsibility to have guns on campus. When placing guns into the hands of others for safekeeping, the owners usually want careful watch over the belongings.  In the end, the college has the students’ best interests at heart when it compromises some freedoms and luxuries for the long term benefit of sanctioned gun usage.

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  • Richard said:

    Why not allow students to keep firearms in the dorms in a small lock box? To me that would be more secure than putting them out in a public lock box someone could rip apart or walking them down to campus PD every time you needed them. Still they have a better method than banning firearms outright. My university would call the whole alphabet of government agencies, starting with the ATF, if I brought a firearm on campus.

  • Dave said:

    “Chief Gee points out that if the police were to walk into a room after someone had killed or shot the original gunman, Chief Gee and his team would most likely “pop” the one with the smoking gun before the situation could be settled.”
    Just walk in and shoot the person without bothering to ascertain what actually happened and who is the threat? No, it’s not the students who shouldn’t have firearms, it’s the numbskull, trigger-happy chief and his little minions who shouldn’t be armed. No law enforcement agency trains that way. That’s just asking for a wrongful death lawsuit. And hopefully he’d be brought up on criminal charges as well (at least for negligence) for just “popping” somebody.

  • Ryan said:

    Wow. He would “pop” them? That is total disregard for police protocol and an excessive use of force. As long as a person is not threatening an officer and is complying, an officer can’t “pop” you. And any officer with a conscience or with any loyalty to their oath wouldn’t consider it.

  • Jake said:

    “Chief Gee points out that if the police were to walk into a room after someone had killed or shot the original gunman, Chief Gee and his team would most likely ‘pop’ the one with the smoking gun before the situation could be settled.”

    1.) Does Chief Gee not have confidence in the training of his team? Trigger and fire discipline are vitally important skills for law enforcement, and especially for tactical officers. Perhaps Chief Gee and “his team” need more training. Or perhaps this is a bullshit excuse intended to easily snow those who don’t know any better…

    2.) Every concealed carry permit owner must make the personal choice of whether to act/intervene (in defense of self or others) for him or her self. If he or she is truly worried about this, he or she could always choose not to act/react/respond. But this is a decision best left up to the individual.

    In continuance of the second point, during /our/ active shooter training, the officer in charge of that training — who, by the way, informed us that he and /his/ team don’t have the itchy trigger finger problem Chief Gee is (purportedly) so worried about — told us we’d have 1-2 seconds to follow the responding officers’ verbal commands and drop anything in our hands… including cell phones (for calling 911) and any improvised weapons we were attempting to save our helpless asses with, such as staplers, books, scissors, pencils, pens, etc.

    By that same measure, would Chief Gee also have us leave our cell phones in a cell phone locker? Or at the very least, not have us call 911 during an active shooter situation? All because of the /possibility/ that an officer could mistake a cell phone (or other hand-held item) for a gun? (there is precedent)

    The bottom line is this: professional police departments (municipal, university, etc) are trained to behave professionally, and are not of the “shoot first and ask questions later” variety, no matter how politically-expedient it may be for Chief Gee to lead some to believe otherwise.

  • j said:

    Clarification: are professors with concealed carry permit allowed to carry their firearm? Guns in rooms: are you talking about long guns or pistols? Registering guns: what does policy dictate about what happens to the records of the registered guns?