Virginia’s ultra-conservative Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, makes headlines again this week over a decision on concealed carry. A few months after taking office in January 2010, Cuccinelli created waves for filing a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the Federal Health Care bill, claiming that it exceeded the Federal government's power under the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution. In August 2010, Cuccinelli then issued an Arizona SB1070-esque legal opinion authorizing law enforcement officials to investigate the immigration status of anyone they pull over. Prior to this opinion, law enforcement only investigated immigration status of persons actually arrested. Now, Cuccinelli is challenging the current ban of concealed guns on almost all Virginia college campuses.
Currently, 25 colleges and universities in four states (Colorado, Utah, Michigan and Virginia) allow the concealed carry of weapons. In Virginia, the only college is Blue Ridge Community College located within the Shenandoah Valley. Last week, Cuccinelli released a legal conclusion arguing that the University of Virginia can ban people from openly carrying guns inside school facilities, but may not ban those with weapon permits. Lori Haas, spokeswoman for The Virginia Center for Public Safety, has stated that, “The classroom and university campuses are not a place for firearms. They are not unsafe places and there is no need to carry a firearm anywhere on a campus at any time.” However, Cuccinelli disagrees and instead sees a ban of concealed carry as a disservice to citizens wishing to bring guns in the classroom. Of the current ban, the Attorney General states, "It certainly can be argued that such policies are ineffectual because persons who wish to perpetrate violence will ignore them, and that the net effect of such policies is to leave defenseless the law-abiding citizens who follow these policies."
The argument of believing it is safer to allow concealed carry on Virginia campuses so that “possible” future act of violence can be stopped by aid from another “possibly” armed citizen being in the right place at the right time is tedious at best. With the history of gun violence aligned with colleges like Virginia’s own Virginia Tech, allowing concealed carry could be a step into dangerous territory. A final decision on whether UVA will approve Cuccinnelli’s legal conclusion remains to be determined. For now, Virginia college students caught in this argument must simply ask themselves, “Would I really feel safer on campus by knowing fellow students were concealing guns?” I believe most would say absolutely not.