Whitworth Security Remain Unarmed in the Wake of Umpqua Shooting

An student shows his shotgun off campus.

James Silberman, 3/8/16

Campuses around the country have been a hotspot for deadly shootings in the past few decades. This brings the issue of guns on campus to the forefront of discussion, especially in high-crime cities. According to FBI crime information, Spokane has the second most occurrences of crime per capita in the state of Washington.

Whitworth Gun Policy

According to the Whitworth Student Bill of Rights, guns are prohibited on campus. This applies not only to students and teachers, but to security officers as well. Campus security officer Leroy McCall confirmed that firearms are indeed prohibited. “[Guns] are strictly prohibited… for all of us,” McCall said.

This begs the question, if students are told they can’t protect themselves and campus security are disarmed, if there were to be an active shooter on campus, what is to stop them from killing people?

According to Google, the police department is a fifteen minute drive from Whitworth’s campus with no traffic. It is reasonable to assume that police could make the trip in seven to eight minutes, but it would also take a few minutes for people to realize that a shooter was on campus. That gives a potential armed assailant roughly ten minutes do as much damage as they can; hardly an ideal response to such a serious situation.

Lessons Learned From Roseburg?

Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon discovered this in October of 2015 when a gunman killed 10 people and injured nine more. According to former president of the school, Joe Olson, prior to the 2015–16 school year, there was contentious debate within the administration and student body over whether armed security would be present on campus. In the end, Umpqua opted to employ a single, unarmed guard.

This is a similar situation to that of Whitworth, where there is typically one or two unarmed security guard patrolling the campus. Another point to note is that Roseburg Police Department is only 10 minutes from campus for a normal car without traffic, much closer than Spokane PD is to Whitworth.

There is evil in the world, and every person alive has the right to self-preservation. There are good arguments to be made for why students shouldn’t be allowed to carry firearms on campus. But if university administrators do not permit students to protect themselves, then they are solely responsible for our protection, and if they fail to provide that protection, then they should be held liable for the damage done should tragedy strike.