MCC students protest against long guns on campus

Long Guns on Campus

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BRIGHTON, N.Y. – Monroe Community College announced it’s making long guns available to peace officers on campus, in case of a “violent, critical emergency.”

Some students held a protest against this on Monday, saying the addition of long guns is intimidating and misguided.

Peace officers at MCC already carry pistols, and have been doing so since 2009, according to MCC Chief of Public Safety, Stephen Wise. He said the long guns have been discussed for years. But the conversation started in earnest, last year.

He said discussions were had with students, faculty, staff, board members and even Monroe County Executive Adam Bello and the legislature. The decision, was supported by student government, passed by board members, and signed off by the president in January.

The guns will be out of sight, and stored away in case of an emergency. Wise said the long guns are needed because they cover more distance than a pistol.

Students against the policy, said it’s just not worth the money, if the guns are only for critical incidents. Some students said they have difficult relationships with police, and this change only makes it worse.

“That is a huge waste of money, there’s no shooting at all where you can notice it, come back to the public safety building, grab a rifle, and end it before it actually occurs,” said Chianti Stefan, a student.

Stefan said instead, the college should focus on expanding resources in the health office, with additional staff and mental health support.

Students at the protest said their voices weren’t at the table in the discussion process.

“I have not heard anything about threats of danger on campus, and we’re a public college where a lot of people come straight from high school,” said David Mills, a student. “I think long guns are way too intimidating.

“This is an institution of higher education,” said Professor Judi Salsburg Taylor. “And I don’t think they signed up for a military police state, or at least the threat of that.”

But Wise said, there were students who attended discussions and provided feedback of support.

“It’s just another tool in an emergency,” he said. “We also have a plan for an airplane crash, and the likelihood of that happening is pretty slim too, but there’s an airport pretty close to us, so I think we’d be pretty wrong not to plan for any emergency that we can even conceivably even think about.”

According to Wise, the peace officers on campus go through the same police academy as any the city and county officers.          

Once the guns arrive, they will undergo a week-long training for it. Wise said it could be months before they arrive.

Of the 30 community colleges in New York State, 15 of them authorize rifles on campus.

Finger Lakes Community College is in the process of purchasing two patrol rifles, and “related equipment” for a cost of no more than $6,500. The purpose, is to, “improve the ability to provide a rapid and effective initial response to a threat, armed with a long gun.”