A growing student group at Virginia Commonwealth University, located in the heart of Richmond, calling themselves “Students for Concealed Carry on Campus – VCU Chapter” has been raising awareness about gun rights and the fallacies of Virginia’s current state Laws in regards to carrying firearms while on [a state] campus. There is also a another group on Facebook called, “Support the right for VCU students to carry on campus” which clearly isn’t limited to just carrying a concealed firearm.
These groups and Facebook pages have been gaining more and more traction since the spike in violent crime (including homicide) in around around VCU’s campus. It certainly makes sense that more and more students are raising their questions and concerns, as to why the lose their 2nd Amendment rights, when attending a State college, in this case VCU.
The United States Constitution’s Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”. Now, how is it justifiable to take away the rights of an individual just because they sign up and attend a state college? Is the state not merely a collective body of individuals whom the voting public grant their authority too? Is the state supposed to protect the rights of the people, or undermine and/ or take eliminate the rights of the people? It’s visibly clear an unknown percentage of the public does not consent to the state law(s)/ policy that restricts the rights’ of students to protect themselves with a firearm while on campus.
Virginia is one of 44 states that have the right to “bear arms” embedded in their own constitutions. Virginia’s Constitution, Article 1, Section 13 states:
“That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power. “
As pointed out in an article published by HamptonRoads.com, “It didn’t always read that way. That last clause – “therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” – was not part of the original version, enacted in 1776. It was added in 1971.”
Now, let’s take a look at the Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department’s Mission Statement: “The mission of the VCU Police Department is to provide a safe and secure learning, living and working environment for the students, faculty, staff and visitors of Virginia Commonwealth University.
This will be accomplished through the development of various community-based crime prevention strategies and initiatives in conjunction with traditional law enforcement and progressive community policing practices. All members of the department will provide the highest levels of courtesy and customer service to the community.”
If the VCU Police Department was really trying to abide by their mission statement, they would provide a safer campus environment by allowing VCU students to carry their own firearms for protection. It is said that an “armed society is a polite society”. The VCU Police will acknowledge that they can’t be every where at once & if they were really concerned with the “safety” of students they would welcome this change. “All the members of the department will provide the highest levels of courtesy and customer service to the community.” – It’s neither courteous nor good customer service practices to disarm peaceful, responsible law-abiding students while on campus.
Furthermore, here is a look at the (or a variation of the) oath that VCU Police Officer’s swear to uphold:
“On my honor,
I will never betray my badge,
my integrity, my character,
or the public trust.
I will always have
the courage to hold myself
and others accountable for our actions.
I will always uphold the constitution
my community and the agency I serve.
Now if the VCU Chief of Police as well as his officers, were actually concerned with the oath they swore too, they would be oath keepers. But instead they are another group of badge wearing individuals who’ve either forgotten their oaths, never planned on upholding their oaths, or have self-compromised their principles since taking their oath. We know this because, if VCU Chief of Police John Venuti (to include his entire department) had any sense of integrity to his (their) oath, he (they) would do the right thing and “Always uphold the Constitution”, both The U.S Constitution and The Virginia Constitution and express to the students that he, nor his officers will harass students for lawfully caring a firearm, under those guaranteed rights, symbolized in those respective documents. Police Officers often use discretion when choosing what laws to enforce and this should be one of those laws that the Police choose to use discretion on and choose NOT to enforce and instead, uphold their oaths, and protect the rights of students to carry firearms. Imagine if the VCU police did the right thing, think of how much trust that would build with the students, it would be unprecedented.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of the police doing the right thing, these days, is not going to happen. In saying that, you’re left with at least three options.
First, you can join the ranks of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which is a well known Pro- 2nd Amendment organization here in Virginia that makes the NRA look moderate. They are constantly teaching people and lobbying for gun rights and are often involved with legislation at the Virginia General Assembly. You can team up with them, and your state representative and lobby to get those laws changed. You can help build this particular cause on VCU’s campus, educating students on gun rights, responsibility, safety, etc. You can also simply choose to disobey that law, in an act(s) of peaceful civil disobedience. Many folks will tell you, “if you want change, work within the system”. Well, unless you are VERY good at lobbying AND raising money for lobbying purposes, more often than not, the legislation that you want to see passed will not even win the support of your own representative, much less anyone else in the General Assembly. Furthermore we see the, “if you want change, work within the system” mentality often does not work, and it took the various civil rights movements in the 50’s & 60’s, etc to rely on Peaceful Civil Disobedience and Non-Cooperation to get the laws changed that they wanted. Granted, there is certainly a risk of disobey ANY “bad laws”, that risk of course, being the heavy hand, the apparatus of the State. Good people disobey bad laws, if you choose to go this route, do so peacefully, safely, responsibly and strategically. Other options would be to simply not attend a college that strips you from your rights, or to seek higher education in a different format/ setting – Like with a library card, and practically applying WHATEVER you are learning to the best of your abilities, out in “the field”.
If you share the sentiment, that the VCU Police should do the right thing and uphold their oaths and protect the student’s right to carry, consider letting them know by filling out their contact form here. Below is a video I found of a Pro 2nd Amendment event on VCU about 10 months ago, which involved various speakers, side-discussion debates, etc.