Unarmed and vulnerable
Bradford B. Wiles
Wiles, of New Castle, is a graduate student at Virginia Tech.
On Aug. 21 at about 9:20 a.m., my graduate-level class was evacuated from the Squires Student Center. We were interrupted in class and not informed of anything other than the following words: "You need to get out of the building."
Upon exiting the classroom, we were met at the doors leading outside by two armor-clad policemen with fully automatic weapons, plus their side arms. Once outside, there were several more officers with either fully automatic rifles and pump shotguns, and policemen running down the street, pistols drawn.
It was at this time that I realized that I had no viable means of protecting myself.
Please realize that I am licensed to carry a concealed handgun in the commonwealth of Virginia, and do so on a regular basis. However, because I am a Virginia Tech student, I am prohibited from carrying at school because of Virginia Tech's student policy, which makes possession of a handgun an expellable offense, but not a prosecutable crime.
I had entrusted my safety, and the safety of others to the police. In light of this, there are a few things I wish to point out.
First, I never want to have my safety fully in the hands of anyone else, including the police.
Second, I considered bringing my gun with me to campus, but did not due to the obvious risk of losing my graduate career, which is ridiculous because had I been shot and killed, there would have been no graduate career for me anyway.
Third, and most important, I am trained and able to carry a concealed handgun almost anywhere in Virginia and other states that have reciprocity with Virginia, but cannot carry where I spend more time than anywhere else because, somehow, I become a threat to others when I cross from the town of Blacksburg onto Virginia Tech's campus.
Of all of the emotions and thoughts that were running through my head that morning, the most overwhelming one was of helplessness.
That feeling of helplessness has been difficult to reconcile because I knew I would have been safer with a proper means to defend myself.
I would also like to point out that when I mentioned to a professor that I would feel safer with my gun, this is what she said to me, "I would feel safer if you had your gun."
The policy that forbids students who are legally licensed to carry in Virginia needs to be changed.
I am qualified and capable of carrying a concealed handgun and urge you to work with me to allow my most basic right of self-defense, and eliminate my entrusting my safety and the safety of my classmates to the government.
This incident makes it clear that it is time that Virginia Tech and the commonwealth of Virginia let me take responsibility for my safety.