New Gun Locker on Campus Continues to Face Challengeby: Robbie Keefe
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.