Marksmanship Club participates in National Empty Holster Day
Adrienne ClineLast Monday the ETSU marksmanship club participated in National Empty Holster Day. In this demonstration, students who are members of the club wore empty gun holsters to class as part of their efforts to get a state gun law changed.
Right now, those who are licensed to carry a handgun are prohibited from carrying one on a university or college campus. Organizations like this one want the law amended so that those who have a permit can carry on campuses as well as everywhere else.
A few weeks ago, some of those participating went to the administration to inform them of the activity the club would be taking part in. At first the university officials were against to demonstration.
"They were afraid that wearing holsters might cause a panic," said Jay Adkins, one of the marksmanship club's vice presidents. Since the club was not breaking any rules or laws, they were allowed to follow through with the demonstration on the allotted day. They also advertised their upcoming plans so students knew what was going on.
Adkins said about 15 to 20 students in the club wore holsters last Monday. The marksmanship club set up a booth in participation also with the homecoming charity fair and sold tickets to an "Open Range Day" at the mini dome's rifle range. Students who bought tickets were given proper safety gear and one-on-one training time with experienced shooters. There were also range safety officers patrolling during the activity to ensure well-being of all those present.
Thirty-seven people showed up to shoot. Adkins says that most of them were new shooters, too.
It is not yet known if the law has a chance to be changed to suit its supporters.
As long as a person has a permit, he or she is allowed to carry a concealed handgun wherever they please - the grocery store, a party, the street, etc. These students fear that in a crisis situation there may not be adequate protection available in crucial moments needed by the few officers who patrol the university. By not allowing licensed individuals to carry on campus, the club feels that college-age students are not being treated as adults when they are treated so under most other circumstances.
To obtain a permit, an individual undergoes an FBI background check, takes an eight-hour training course, pays a training fee of $50 to $60, and pays a fee of $115 to the state for the permit. They must also be 21 years of age or older.
"I would feel a whole lot safer if someone had a license to carry and stop someone from going on a rampage," said Jordan Taylor, marksmanship club member.
It is for their and other students' safety that they are fighting to change the law.
"Awareness is key," said Stephanie Adkins, club member. Knowing that there are others in the vicinity who could take action in the event of such happenings like a shooting could provide more reassurance, she feels. "Campus safety can't always be there immediately," she said.
In continued efforts to promote the change in state law, the marksmanship club is also wearing and selling T-shirts that read, "What you can't see can save your life."