Dear Senator Cahill,
I am generally a stoic and self-reliant individual, but tonight I read a recent news article that so unnerved me I feel compelled to share it. First, though, I think you deserve some background on who I am, and why I care about SB 1214.
I am a Ph.D student in engineering at ASU, a proud gay rights supporter, registered Democrat, and recreational target shooter. Every third Saturday I join the Phoenix chapter of the Pink Pistols, an organization which promotes responsible firearm ownership among sexual minorities for the purpose of self-defense, for an hour of relaxed target shooting and coffee. It was through them that I learned of SB 1214 and the security it may provide college students like myself.
I support the policy of allowing licensed concealed carry permit holders to carry their firearms concealed while on a school's campus. For the purposes of this bill, I believe a school includes K-12 education as well as university and community college campuses, though amendments may have limited that to just higher education at this point.
I must also admit that I am not particularly thrilled about the general idea of students carrying weapons. However, this initial aversion was substantially quelled when I recognized that most students are under 21 years of age and thus do not qualify for the carry permit (in fact, only 10% of Arizona permit holders are under 30**). Furthermore, obtaining such a permit requires safety training, fingerprinting, and extensive background checks that few individuals interested in aggression would want to undergo. As a student, I would feel much more comfortable if my professors and university faculty were allowed to exercise their right to carry concealed. In Utah concealed carry on college campuses is allowed, and I believe that a similar treatment in Arizona could provide a significant deterrent to school shootings.
Even if I am wrong on that last point, and the incomprehensible motives that fuel these tragedies remained unaffected, it would not be possible for a rampage, like that which persisted at Virginia Tech and resulted in the deaths of 32 people, to be repeated in the presence of a responsible citizen with their own firearm.
I realize that we have a campus and city police force. They are presumably well-trained, in addition to being, in my personal experience, extremely polite and courteous to innocent inquiries. This is a clear and obvious objection to the points which I have raised. However, the tragic events at Virginia Tech and NIU have given me reason to believe that, despite the real safety that our security services provide, in moments of sudden violence victims must often find themselves shockingly alone. Only a few hours ago, I received yet another reminder. I forward you this story, in which a woman was murdered this morning in her home, while on the phone with the local 911 dispatcher.
I hope you also recognize the need for self-reliant self-defense, and that our campuses are currently unprotected by that standard. Thank you for taking the time to read my concerns.
Graduate Research Assistant
Arizona State University
---- Reproduced below is a copy of the CNN article from this afternoon. ----
Gunshots bring abrupt end to frantic 911 callWEST COVINA, California (AP)
A woman was asking a 911 dispatcher for help when her pleas were interrupted by gunshots, then silence.
She was shot to death.
The woman told the dispatcher someone was trying to break into her home in upscale West Covina, Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Dan Rosenberg said.
"Deputies heard gunshots followed by silence and an open phone line," he said.
Deputies arrived at the house, 20 miles east of Los Angeles, a few minutes after Wednesday's late morning call.
The woman, whose name was not released by police, had been shot several times. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.
"At this point we believe it was a burglary gone awry
," Rosenberg said.
Investigators are trying to determine if anything was taken, Deputy Luis Castro said.
While police were investigating the shooting, a man arrived at the home asking about his wife.
When he heard that the woman had been shot and killed, he collapsed and started to cry, saying "No! She just called me. You lie." The man was placed in a patrol car and taken to a sheriff's station, police said.
Witnesses said they saw one or more men running from the house, Rosenberg said. Investigators used bloodhounds to conduct yard-to-yard searches.
No arrests had been made by Thursday morning, deputies said.
As a precaution during the search, a high school and an elementary school were locked down for about two hours, police Lt. Dan Brooks said.