Armed with all of the righteous indignation a second amendment Carry and Conceal holder could have, I requested an interview with Campus Security and Police Services Executive Director, Jon Uda. Should we allow conceal and carry on campus? At first, I thought yes. But after speaking to Uda, he disarmed my questions with his thought-provoking insights as to why it is best to leave gun defense on campus to trained professionals. Once the interview was over, he had radically changed my perception. On campus, guns should only be carried by those trained to use them.
Uda, whose training in law enforcement is extensive, is passionate about the security of the Boise State.
“The death of a student keeps me awake at night,” Uda said.
And should that death be at the hands of an inexperienced marksman, it would be devastating to the former FBI agent. Uda has witnessed crimes committed by the dregs of society and yet, to hear his emotion when speaking of the students on campus, it is realized how seriously he takes his job.
“I don’t want one student to die on my watch,” Uda said. “We’ll do everything we can to prevent that. At any given time we have between five and seven members of the Boise Police Department on campus. Last year, we had a shirtless man making his way on Juanita St. wielding a machete. An observer called 911 and within one minute we had the guy surrounded and disarmed.”
Asked why Conceal and Carry Weapons (CCW) were disallowed on campus, the usual was reiterated: potential accidental discharge of a weapon, the gun could be used against someone else or used by an unstable owner for their own suicide. But then, Uda got down to the basics.
“When you’re carrying a weapon and have to go to the bathroom, where do you put it,” Uda asked. “On a shelf? On the floor? Or between your legs pointing down? How many who take the basic CCW course will know that?” (The correct answer is C)
As we spoke, his stories of near-misses by trained police officers and even a potential shooting in his own line of work, confirmed how little training a basic CCW entails.
Gun ownership and having a CCW come with a grave responsibility. His simple question, “Have you ever shot someone?” gave me pause to consider how each pull of a trigger can impact possible victims, police officers, insurance companies, and victim’s family members.
Could I really be able to pull that trigger, knowing the bullet wound would be forever? Firing Glocks, various rifles and my Ruger on a gun range, shooting deer and pheasants outdoors is much different than pointing a gun at another human. Even those who are trained regret when it must be done.
“The adrenaline kicks in when you’re faced with that decision. It is a grave obligation when you take a life or harm someone after trying to talk them down doesn’t work,” Uda said.
That has yet to be determined if it was their life against my family’s or my own. However, at Boise State, we have, at any given moment, teams of officers who have undergone those very scenarios, trained to both preserve and take lives should the circumstances arise.
An exception to the no-guns-on-campus rule includes a comprehensive vetting process by Uda for those who feel the need to utilize their CCW on campus, but those instances are few.
“If there is an employee, maybe in the throes of a divorce who has a spouse who’s made threats against them, they fear for their lives, then they can come and speak to us and we’ll do everything we can to make them safe on this campus,” Uda said. “The best crime deterrent we have on this campus are the eyes and ears of students and employees. When they see something not right then call us or 911, we will respond within minutes. If they see someone who may harm themselves or others, we will make sure that person is sequestered and helped.”
The response time on the Boise State campus is in direct correlation with its size. Of the five states that allow the carrying of concealed weapons on public post secondary campuses, many of those colleges have acreage far above Boise State’s.
The largest is the University of Mississippi with a sprawling campus encompassing over 2,000 acres of land. Boise State comes in at a modest 175 acres.
Smaller campuses equate to faster response times by police and security. Plus, it is Boise after all. Not exactly a destination spot for hard crime in the United States.
Conceal and Carry Weapons have their use and in some circumstances, can and do save lives.
However, with the rapid response of Campus Security and Police Services on our campus, the need for untrained private citizens who possess handguns would be unnecessary hazards. On this campus, we should leave guns and their responsibility in the hands of trained professionals.