Despite new gun law, state firearms group won’t pressure area colleges

To convince colleges to allow concealed carry on campus, one gun rights group has a plan: do nothing.

A new Ohio law gives individual college boards of trustees the authority to allow guns on campus but university officials at Wright State, Miami, Ohio State and Cincinnati have said they’ll continue prohibitions on firearms. The University of Dayton has not taken a stance on the new law but UD already prohibits people from carrying concealed guns on campus.

“You can’t force somebody into this and that’s not the intent,” said Jim Irvine, board president of the Buckeye Firearms Association. “I don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t want to work with me.”

While the association and Irvine support the new law, he said they are not planning anything to pressure college trustees into allowing guns on campuses. Instead, Irvine said the association will take a “hands-off approach” and expects most Ohio colleges will eventually come around on their own.

“My guess is it’s been discussed at every college that gives a damn about safety,” Irvine said.

All it takes to change minds, Irvine said, is "an event that touches an emotional nerve." He referenced the November attack on Ohio State's campus when Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove a car into a group of people outside Watts Hall before exiting the vehicle and beginning to stab bystanders.

“Literally, in an instant, that idea can change,” Irvine said. “That fear now opens the door.”

Despite Irvine’s prediction, officials at nearby universities have been clear about their opposition to concealed carry on campus. Miami and Wright State both sent students and staff emails reminding them that despite the new law, guns are still prohibited.

Wright State police chief David Finnie has been a vocal opponent of Ohio’s new law and has advised WSU officials against allowing guns on campus. All 14 public universities in Ohio have come out against allowing concealed carry on campuses, Finnie told this news organization in December.

“Allowing firearms on campus is a dangerous idea,” Finnie said. “It would not make the campus safer.”

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