The Collegian
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Guns present minimal concern on campus

University of Richmond’s campus is so safe that dangerous winds are more of a security concern than guns or any firearm-related violence, said Brittany Schaal, director of emergency management.

Since Richmond has a zero-tolerance gun policy, gun violence and presence does not pose a large safety threat on this campus. “It is the policy of the University of Richmond that no person employed by the University or any student or visitor to the University buildings, facilities, vehicles, grounds and other University property shall possess a firearm in a University building, on University grounds or during a University-sponsored activity,” according to the school’s gun bylaws.

“I don’t think guns have a place on college campuses,” said Laura Browder, professor of the first-year seminar “Guns in America.” In the seminar, Browder explores the relationship among Americans, the history of the Second Amendment and why Americans so closely associate citizenship with the right to bear arms, Browder said.

“I think they make it a more dangerous environment particularly on campuses like ours where binge-drinking is such an issue,” she said. “I think guns and alcohol really don’t mix.”

If a gun-related incident did present itself on campus, Richmond has an active-shooter plan ready. “The philosophy we have on campus regarding an active threat is run, hide, fight,” Schaal said. The philosophy encourages people to run and hide from an active shooter or threat and use force only as a final resort.

“I think the campus is as safe as the community will allow it to be,” Schaal said. “We are an open environment, so anyone can come on campus, but we have a very active, accredited police department. So, as long as individuals – this includes students, faculty and staff – are aware of their surroundings and reporting things, we will continue to be a relatively safe campus.”

Richmond employs 22 sworn officers and 60 employees in the police department overall, said Beth Simonds, assistant chief of the university’s police department. Simonds has been working at the university for 25 years.

While gun-related issues do not present large problems at Richmond, larceny and vandalism have become recurring, minimal safety concerns on campus “Right now we probably see a little bit more vandalism and larceny on weekends than we do at other times. But overall, crime is fairly low,” Simonds said.

“Essentially we feel fairly fortunate,” Simonds said. “It is a fairly law-abiding community.”

Contact Online Editor Lindsay Schneider at lindsay.schneider@richmond.edu

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