OPINION: Mason's weapons policies favor criminals, endanger law-abiding students and staff

Mason's weapons policy states: "the unauthorized possession, storage, display, or use of any kind of ammunition, firearm, firework, explosive, air rifle, air pistol, or other lethal instrument is prohibited on university property" (photo by John Irwin).
Mason's weapons policy states: "the unauthorized possession, storage, display, or use of any kind of ammunition, firearm, firework, explosive, air rifle, air pistol, or other lethal instrument is prohibited on university property" (photo by John Irwin).
Students at Mason are probably well aware of the gun ban on campus and in housing, and due to the lack of outrage, it seems that students don’t mind a temporary suspension of their rights in the name of safety. Students may be “ok” with not being allowed to have a gun on campus, but where does it end? What other self-defense tools are not permitted on campus?
 
Emergency situations can pop up anywhere, anytime. Law can only deter violence and police can only react to it. Need for action in the present to protect one’s own body or belongings could arise without a moment’s notice. The ability and preparedness to protect oneself could be the difference between life and death.
 
A variety of tools are available to citizens of this free country as a way to gain an advantage over the bad guys who pose a threat because they don’t follow the law. For example, guns, pepper spray, stun guns and knives have all proven to be great tools in situations where self-defense is needed. Mason doesn’t address these useful protection items as “tools,” rather, they prefer the title “weapon.” All of those self-defense items listed above are restricted here at Mason. University Policy 1120 details the weapons prohibition on campus, while the Resident Student Handbook expands further control over what you can and can’t have on campus.  
 
As mentioned previously, firearms are not allowed on campus, including the extremely dangerous Nerf “guns” many students grew up playing with as children. The Student Resident Handbook lists out examples of “weapons” not permitted, but also states that students aren’t allowed to have “other items deemed to be dangerous, inflict a wound, or cause injury on university property. A weapon may be a substance, instrument, or object.” With that arbitrary definition, it is possible that a pencil could be deemed a weapon!
 
When asked for a list of weapons not permitted on campus, Mason’s Office of Housing and Resident Life responded, “There is not a list of items deemed to be dangerous, but examples are provided in the handbook. The spirit of the policy is to address items that are used with the intention of threatening another individual.”  
 
Translation: there is no set list of items prohibited, so students could be completely unaware that they are breaking policy. The only clear exception given is to kitchen knives, which are as equally dangerous as non-kitchen knives that are prohibited. It’s quite possible under this policy that fists and feet are prohibited because the spirit of the policy is to address items used with the intention of threatening another. News flash to the university policy makers, the goal of self-defense is to be as big a threat as possible to the attacker so they leave their target alone. The more self-defense weapons permitted on campus, the more of a threat the student body is to rapists, thugs and other criminals.
 
Pepper spray and stun guns are commonly used self-defense tools, especially for women who don’t want to carry a small firearm. Mason does not take kindly to students who wish to defend themselves with these products, and students found in possession of those items could be evicted from the residence halls and are subject to further discipline. Pepper spray is one of the most popular and useful tools for protection in this country, but Mason decided that our campus is safer without it.
 
Mason’s weapons policy leaves students empty handed and vulnerable. If attacked, call 911. If you can’t call 911 because you’re being attacked, try fighting with your hands and feet. If the attacker is stronger than you, pray and hope for the best. Watch out though, if your hands and feet are used in a threatening manner, you might be in trouble.  
 
George Mason, that guy our school is named after, wrote, "To disarm the people is the most effectual way to enslave them." Here at Mason, we’re enslaved by our attackers in the event of a crime because self-defense is outlawed.
 
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Fourth Estate.
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