Students and professors at Dixie State University may have a loaded gun on them without you knowing.
There is no specific DSU policy outlining firearms on campus; DSU must follow Utah state law. This law allows students and professors to conceal carry at any time.
The University of Utah tried enacting a policy that would ban all guns on campus in 2006, even if the carrier held a permit. The Utah Supreme Court later ruled against this effort because it opposed Utah state law. So, even if DSU did want to ban guns, it would not be able to without fighting the state.
“Anyone with a concealed weapons permit may carry on DSU campus,” said Don Reid, director of campus police. “Sometimes students think it is their Second Amendment right to open carry, but that’s not the case. The weapon must be concealed.”
Communication professor Dennis Wignall, who has had a concealed weapons permit for 51 years, said he carries a concealed gun because the future is uncertain.
“I cannot predict with any certainty that a sociopath, psychopath or someone else on some sort of violent act to commit mayhem won’t suddenly appear,” Wignall said. “We all have a right to protect ourselves, and I’m extremely good with a firearm. So, I feel like this is a good way to deal with [those people].”
Wignall also trains his classes on what to do if there is ever an armed shooter.
“I have a protocol for my classes, which I design based on the classroom size, location and shape,” Wignall said. “Essentially, I put my students out of sight, put myself between the students and the door, and other students volunteer to throw tables and chairs if needed.”
Wignall said he knows of other professors who carry on campus, but for their own safety, they often don’t disclose that information.
Jordan Roah, a senior communication major from Oceanside, California, said he supports having guns on campus.
“Just because of the massive amount of guns in this country, and in Utah especially, the only way to really beat [those guns] is to have someone with a firearm, and that’s a good guy,” Roah said.
Roah said he feels safe at DSU. He met with police officers last year when he was a resident assistant at the DSU dorms, and he said knowing campus police and campus security are armed makes him more comfortable.
Other students, like Jean-Pierre Uzabakiriho, a sophomore general studies major from Redlands, California, said they don’t like the thought of their professors having guns.
“On campus, I personally wouldn’t be comfortable with my professor having a gun,” Uzabakiriho said. “Like if you and your professor got into an argument and it escalated quickly, you don’t know what they might do. Some people are unpredictable.”
Uzabakiriho said although it makes him uncomfortable, he understands why professors might want guns because of the many shootings he sees on the news.
The U.S. has more mass shootings than any other country in the world. Only a month into 2017, there have already been 123 people injured or killed by mass shootings in the U.S. There were 2,383 people injured or killed by mass shootings in the U.S. in 2016, with schools the second most common place for mass shootings.
“Saying it will never happen here is an assumption you should never make,” Wignall said. “It is always better to be safe.”