Letter to the editor:

By Benjamin Soltis

GVSU student senator

Unfortunately, Grand Valley Lanthorn chose to misrepresent the facts of self-defense, along with what I am advocating for. To be completely clear, as I did in the interview I graciously gave the Lanthorn, I stated that I was pushing for the University to follow the laws of the State of Michigan.

Per Michigan State Police Legal Update No. 86 and Michigan Compiled Law, guns are allowed to be carried on college campuses, universities, and dorms in Michigan only if the person possesses a valid Concealed Pistol License (CPL) and carries the firearm in plain sight. Along with the rest of the public universities across the state, Grand Valley has chosen to ignore the law. The University Counsel stands behind the Supreme Court case of
Heller v. The District of Columbia, which prohibits firearms from the mentally ill, criminals, government buildings, and schools. However, under US Code, schools are defined as places such as elementary schools and high schools – not colleges and universities. The University Counsel also states that guns are banned on college campuses using a mere two words from our Michigan Constitution (VIII § 6). These clauses describe how colleges may give degrees and regulate their finances.

If someone could tell me how “general supervision” equals a “gun ban,” I would be very interested to hear what they say. To try and say that a college or university can preempt state law is a losing court case, especially when the Michigan Constitution (Article I § 6) includes the right to bear arms. This argument is equivalent to saying a clause in the United States Constitution preempts another, which would be strange.

That being said, I do not support the allowing of all guns on campus as the editorial wrongly assumed I do. Training for a Conceal Pistol License is very much an involved process and the people who carry for self-defense are prepared to use the firearm correctly. Only those with a CPL should be able to open carry a firearm on campus, not concealed carry, as stated in Michigan law.

But let’s take a look at the places guns are banned. In government buildings, there are notable people who are at risk of being assassinated. These buildings are protected with metal detectors, armed guards, and many other forms of security. In elementary schools, there are locked doors and some even have metal detectors. I’m not sure if college students (many of whom are adults) can be compared to the criminals and mentally ill who are banned from using firearms, yet that is the argument that is being used. At Grand Valley, I see no locked doors, metal detectors, security guards at every door, nor landline phones in every room. A licensed and trained pistol user is clearly a better alternative than a room full of students waiting several minutes until police arrive to prevent a perpetrator from mowing down the classroom.

The editorial’s wrongful argument that ‘GVSU doesn’t need guns on campus’ is every future criminal’s laughing stock. Now, I would agree with the Lanthorn, Dean Merkle, and the University Counsel that it would be wonderful if everyone followed the law. Here’s the hard reality: the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. All the opinions and surveys in the world can be done, but none will show how banning all guns prevents disasters like the Virginia Tech and Aurora, Colorado shootings.