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Students wear empty holsters in protest

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WILMINGTON -- Monday we told you about a group of UNCW students pushing to allow concealed weapons on campus for self-defense. Tuesday those students participated in a nation-wide protest. The UNCW students are among the thousands expected to wear empty holsters to class Tuesday. As part of "empty holster day", students wore empty gun holsters, symbolizing where guns would be on people at least 21 years old, who have the necessary permits. They also educated people who stopped by their table to learn more about carrying weapons on campus. Protesters say giving people the right to carry concealed weapons would protect themselves and others and help in an emergency. Kevin King carried an empty holster. He said, "It's just letting those people that already have concealed carry permits, which you have to be 21 to get already and you can carry them everywhere else, just allowing them to be able to carry them on campus, it's not giving students guns." The nation-wide organization Students for Concealed Carry on Campus sponsored the protest. That is not an official campus organization at uncw, but students are trying to change that. They will go before a review committee in the fall. The university released a statement expressing some concerns about carrying concealed weapons on campus:

As a university community, we respect the right of our students to express their positions on issues, including campus safety and security, which is an issue of vital importance to all of us. While allowing students to carry guns might appear to some individuals to be an option in deterring violence on campuses, it brings with it additional concerns for safety. One concern is the level of training and proficiency of the person carrying the weapon, including his or her ability to use it effectively and retain the weapon in a crisis situation. Many gun owners have been killed or injured with their own weapons while attempting an intervention. A second concern is the tactical complexity of introducing multiple weapons to a police emergency, which significantly elevates the probability that a well meaning citizen may be mistaken as an aggressor. Having multiple people carrying and using weapons during a situation such as an active shooter attack causes confusion about who is actually the perpetrator, which may result in additional injuries. We believe that there are other approaches and solutions to increasing campus safety and security that are more effective than allowing the proliferation of weapons on campus.

The best protection for any potential emergency is to be informed and aware. It is important to have a plan in place in advance to deal with crisis situations. A plan involving options on what a person can do to escape, where to hide (if escape is not an option), who to notify and where to rally with co-workers or classmates when the “all clear” is given are all points that need to be considered. UNCW Police offers “community response to violent situations” workshops to assist students, faculty and staff with how to plan and deal with a violent situation on campus, which cover areas of law enforcement response and familiarization with campus-wide emergency notification systems. Students are also encouraged to report any suspicious individuals or activity to UNCW Police and to be vigilant about security measures, such as not allowing unauthorized persons to enter locked residence halls.

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