WKU Officials Say Protest Won't Sway University's No-Gun Policy

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) - A group of Western Kentucky University students are planning a protest next month to decry a campus policy banning guns.

An online group pushed for the protests nationally after the shootings at Virginia Tech that killed 33 people earlier this year.

"It's called the empty holster protest," Western Kentucky University student Nathan Hayes said. "In support for allowing concealed carry on campus."

He said students licensed to carry guns should be able to bring them to campus.Western Kentucky's policy bans all guns on campus.

School officials said despite the protest, scheduled for the week of Oct. 22, they would not consider changing the school's gun policy.

"Western's policy is very clear. You cannot carry a weapon on campus or in any of our buildings," said Gene Tice, WKU's Vice- President of Student Affairs.

Tice said officials suggested a number of changes following the Virginia Tech shootings to improve campus safety. Those suggestions
did not include guns, he said.

"We have never discussed nor have we ever considered anyone carrying weapons on campus. Only our police officers are authorized
to carry weapons and we're very firm about that," Tice said.

He said students carrying guns might actually create a more dangerous environment.

"My concern would be the person would not have that kind of training in a highly charged emotional situation the way our police would," Tice said.

Nationwide, 38 states ban weapons at schools, and 16 of those
specifically ban guns on college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states allow schools to adopt their own gun policies.

Members of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus at more than 60 colleges are aiming to change laws to allow permit holders to
carry on campus.

"I've always felt strongly about it," Hayes said. The shootings at Virginia Tech were "the straw though that broke the camel's back."

Students will protest by wearing an empty holster on campus. Hayes said several students have signed up.

School officials said they would be keeping a close eye on protesters to ensure their holsters are empty.

--- Information from: Daily News, http://www.bgdailynews.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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