USC students use empty holsters to demand more protection from school

Published: Aug. 27, 2014 at 12:21 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 6, 2014 at 3:27 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Jacob Smith carries an empty gun holster around the University of South Carolina's campus as a political statement and he's not alone.

Smith's group, USC Students for Concealed Carry, has used recent crimes on campus as their fuel for its cause.

"I would believe that most students today," Smith said, "if you were to ask them, yeah, we want more people with means of protection on campus."

Less than a week ago, the university says a student was held at gunpoint at the Horseshoe, taken to an East Quad dorm, and forced to give the suspect money. Over the weekend, a gunman was reportedly spotted near the Russell House. Most recently, a 19-year-old was the victim of a strong-armed robbery.

"It's such an open campus," Smith said. "You've got multiple areas that the City of Columbia is the campus of USC."

While USC President Harris Pastides has promised heavier patrols of uniformed and plain-clothed officers as well as more technology including cameras and call boxes. However, Smith, who is a junior in the Navy, has another solution he'd like to see.

Smith would like for students to be able to carry a gun on public or privately school property. Currently, it is against the law to do so and Smith would like that changed.

"They can't be everywhere at once," Smith said. "You can't expect an officer to always be within a call. The average police response time is seven minutes."

Some believe it will never happen, but Smith and his group aren't going to give up just yet.

"I plan on actually getting a petition circulated, if we possibly can," Smith said, "and present it to President Pastides by the end of this semester with hopefully enough signatures to influence some change within the community."

Previously, a bill allowing concealed carry on campuses was introduced in the state Senate in 2013. The bill never made it out of the Judiciary Committee.

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