MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The shooting of a student on the University of South Alabama Campus by a campus police officer has raised the question of crime and campus safety for some students.
One of the people who attended the news conference by school officials Saturday afternoon is advocating a change in policy at USA and other schools to allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus.
Phillip Harding had something on his belt other students didn't have at the news conference Saturday: an empty gun holster.
Harding said, "An empty holster is kind of a symbolism that, while I'm trained, I have a permit, I can be armed. I'm not allowed to be armed here."
Harding is the state director of Students for Concealed Carry of Alabama, part of a national organization that believes trained licensed adults over 21 should be allowed to carry concealed weapons on college campuses for their own safety.
USA officials addressed the issue of student safety at Saturday's news conference.
USA Public Relations Director Keith Ayers said, "This is a very, tragic development. Statistically, I think, as you all have reported in the past, and in your comparisons, this is a very safe campus to live, work and play."
Harding isn't convinced.
He said, "Criminals can come right on campus anytime."
Harding said he's talked with USA school administrators about his concerns, but, "all I've been able to get out of them is that, no, 'campus carry' is not illegal. You can't be charged with a crime for doing so. However, anyone who is caught carrying a weapon on campus is subject to the disciplinary committee, and, employees can be terminated, [and] students can be expelled for that."
Harding believes crimes on campus, like a robbery in September and a shooting incident in April that left the campus on lockdown could bring the issue to the forefront.
"Students would be a lot safer if they were allowed to defend themselves, and they didn't have to rely on the police to come back after the fact," said Harding.
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