Like most students around the country on Labor Day, I spent my afternoon relaxing, dreading the resumption of classes the next day, and eagerly anticipating the Notre Dame vs. Louisville college football game that night.
That all changed around 5:30 p.m., when I and all other students at Villanova University received a text message: “ACTIVE SHOOTER on VU campus. Shelter in place. Lock/barricade doors.”
A few minutes later, we received another update with the message: “SHOTS FIRED.”
The incident took place on the freshman campus, about a three-minute walk from the new senior housing where I live.
In the days since, friends have told me how they barricaded their doors with dressers, chairs, and any heavy objects they could find. I also heard stories of freshmen running from their dorms, scared for their lives.
These are all common and expected reactions when your school sends out an alert about shots being fired on your campus.
But I did nothing during this incident. Not because I did not want to do anything, but because I couldn’t. When the alert was sent out, I was in the middle of giving myself an IV infusion to treat my immune deficiency disease.
I have an immune condition that requires infusions through an IV every single week for the rest of my life. They take about 80 minutes, and I can’t move well during them.
I certainly was not mobile enough to fight off a potential gunman without having a gun of my own. If a gunman had stormed my room that day, I would be dead. I had no weapon to defend myself.
Thankfully, there was no real gunman on campus that day. A student simply heard “loud noises” in the hall and reported them as gunshots, according to Villanova’s director of public safety.
There are many lessons to be learned from this incident. Obviously, more gun education is needed to educate people who are unfamiliar with guns, since polls show that nearly 60% of teenagers are scared of being a victim of a mass shooting, despite the odds of this happening being only 1 in 614 million.
There is simply no reason a “loud noise” should send an entire campus into a panic.
But my specific situation illustrates another lesson that should be learned: the need for campus carry.
Across the country, tens of thousands, if not millions, of college students suffer from a disability or disease like mine that makes them incapable of fighting off threats for certain periods of time.
We cannot punch, kick, or stab a shooter in the unlikely event that one comes.
Being able to carry on campus would change that by enabling us to fight off potential threats.
I am experienced with guns. I’ve been around them my whole life and feel comfortable with them. I know good gun safety practices and know how to use guns responsibly.
Unfortunately, Villanova University prohibits all students and even public safety officers from carrying weapons on university property, even though Pennsylvania’s outright ban of weapons on college campuses was repealed in 2013.
This is the main reason why I don’t have a Pennsylvania concealed carry license—because as an out-of-state student, virtually the only time I am in Pennsylvania is when I’m on campus.
Across the United States, only nine states specifically protect a student’s right to carry on campus.
Campus carry should be protected across the United States to give responsible gun owners the ability to defend themselves in potentially deadly situations.
The lack of campus carry protections has left college students defenseless against attackers in multiple shootings. It’s the primary reason that a 21-year-old student at the University of Nevada was raped despite her possession of a Nevada handgun license. She was not allowed to carry on campus, and therefore couldn’t defend herself when she needed the weapon most.
My story could have ended similarly. If a real shooting had occurred, I could have died because strict gun laws prohibit me from carrying on campus.
College students across the country should have the right to carry if they please. It might just save lives and more, prevent horrific attacks.