Letter to USG President, Nick Messenger

by Michael Newbern

In light of Mr Messenger’s comments in a recent Lantern article, I thought it would be reasonable to share with you the letter I sent him offering input to the safety committee and our help in solving our campus crime problem.

Mr Messenger,

My name is Mike Newbern. I am a second year engineering student and founder of Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus.  We are very interested in helping develop a proactive solution to the crime problem on and around the OSU campus.  We contacted President Gee when we became aware of the special committee on safety. He requested we provide our input to you as the student representative on the committee.  Please consider our input.

In recent weeks, several Ohio State students have reported being victims of violent crimes in areas surrounding campus.  CrimeReports.com, the tool that the Columbus Police Department uses to disseminate crime data to the public, shows 67 violent crimes (homicides, robberies, and assault both sexual and non-sexual) in the University District during the 30 day period ending November 23, 2011.  A number of these violent crimes occurred as students were traveling to and from the OSU campus.

The University District, which is much more than just the OSU campus, is a target rich environment for criminals in large part because a valuable tool has been removed from the students’ defensive toolbox.  Due to state law and OSU’s ban on carrying concealed handguns on campus, those who travel to and from campus are disarmed.  We agree with your suggestions of better lighting and more proactive OSU police patrols in the area however better more proactive OSU police patrols are not enough.   We believe that students, staff and faculty who have completed the necessary requirements to obtain an Ohio Concealed Handgun License (CHL) should be permitted to carry concealed firearms when traveling to and from campus and on. Allowing licensees to carry concealed firearms on campus will have no negative impact on campus safety and will deter criminals thereby reducing crime in the area.

The students, faculty, and staff that are licensed to carry a concealed handgun in Ohio obtained said license with considerable effort. They submitted to an extensive FBI background check to ensure a record clean of violent and/or drug related felonies, violent misdemeanors, mental defective adjudications, and active criminal protection orders. They took a 12 hour course of instruction prescribed by the Ohio Revised Code and passed competency testing subsequent to the course.  Licensees in Ohio must also be at least 21 years of age.  The legal requirements for obtaining a concealed handgun license  in Ohio ensures that those licensed to carry concealed firearms on campus are comprised of law-abiding upperclassmen, adult degree seekers, graduate students, faculty, and staff.

Campus carry is permitted at 70 campuses in Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, Utah, and Virginia having a combined student population of nearly 500,000. These campuses have not experienced a single incident of gun violence (including threats and suicides), a single gun accident, or a single gun theft since allowing licensees to carry a concealed firearm.

Economist Dr John Lott’s research over the past fifteen years, published in his book More Guns Less Crime confirms that violent crime rates are higher in areas where firearm ownership and carry laws are strict than in areas with relaxed laws. The FBI recently reported that nationwide we have experienced a downward trend in violent crime in spite of a poor economy. That this trend has followed the relaxation of restrictions on firearm ownership and carry is no coincidence.

It is time we send criminals a clear message. It is time we empower students, staff and faculty to defend themselves.   It is time that we repeal the campus conceal carry ban and desaturate the victim pool on campus and in the university district.

We respectfully request that you include our suggestion of allowing those who have an Ohio concealed handgun license to carry a concealed handgun on campus.  We realize that this change will require both a change in OSU administrative policy and a legislative change to Ohio law. We are working to change Ohio Revised Code and request that the committee work to change Ohio State Policy.

Should you have any questions and/or would like to meet or speak with me personally, please feel free to call me. I can also answer questions via email. Thank you in advance for your consideration and hard work in helping make the University District safer.

Mike Newbern
Founder, Buckeyes for Concealed Carry on Campus
Ohio State Engineering Undergraduate Student

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