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  • Princeton's Perimeter Plan

    3/4/2011 9:20:59 AM Posted by Patrick Coyle

    No Firearms Allowed

    By Jiesi Zhao

    Last week, I labeled Princeton University as one of the most biased campuses in our nation – one that proudly welcomes and supports some of the most radical leftist professors and their ideologies. This week, Princeton strikes again. And it’s not that I have something against Princeton, it’s just that the endless display and flaunting of their abilities to champion liberal ideologies never cease to astonish me. Princeton University has shown this week that its officials are also part of the anti-guns and anti-freedom gang – at the expense of their students’ safety. Now, campuses across the nation are not unfamiliar with the debate of whether or not students should be allowed to carry firearms for self defense. At Princeton, not only is concealed-carry out of the question for students, but they’ve also gone a step further to ensure that no guns are allowed on campus at all. Specifically, what I mean is that Princeton refuses to have any public safety officers on campus carry guns.

    University officials have defended their position, according to The Daily Princetonian, by claiming that armed officers would “hurt student-officer relationships,” and that allowing them to carry guns come with the risk of a “potential change in the culture of the campus” while the probability of a shooting on campus is very low. They also claim that nearby local police would be able to respond to emergencies should the need for armed officials arise. However, local police say that likely first responders (on campus public safety) would be powerless and the precious seconds wasted on waiting for backup to arrive could be the difference between life and death. Instead of heeding the advice of trained and experienced officers, Princeton officials arrogantly responded to their concerns by citing that public safety leaders “don’t make policy at this University”.

    Currently, Princeton’s policy is a joke – or what they like to call – a perimeter plan. If a shooting were to occur, public safety officers have only the authority to set up a perimeter around the incident to make sure no one gets near the area and wait for further assistance from local police and other off-campus help. Meanwhile, public safety officers on site are powerless to intervene, allowing a possible shooter to use deadly force on students within the perimeter, who would have no means of defending themselves until the police arrive.     

    The safety of students should be the number one priority of any campus. Princeton, however, believes that their duty to maintain a no-guns-on-campus culture supersedes the need to do everything in their power to keep students safe. Moreover, Princeton proudly and overconfidently promotes the fact that they are a guns-free zone while simple logic would indicate that potential shooters would be more likely to target campuses where it is known that no armed protection exists. For years, liberals have made sure that guns are banned on college campuses – for students and administrators. But to ban arms for trained public safety officials in order to maintain a gun-less “culture” against the recommendation of experts in the field is going too far, and more importantly, it is reckless and without reason. Shooting incidents at schools, though rare, are unforeseeable, and campuses have an obligation to provide necessary armed officials for its students especially because they are forbidden from protecting themselves with firearms.

    Jiesi Zhao is a Sarah T. Hermann Intern Scholar for Young America's Foundation

    • Readers' Comments

    • While I agree that the safety of the student body is important, I completely disagree that Princeton should employ armed security personnel. In all reality, the only difference between an armed security officer and an unarmed one is that the armed officer could potentially take down an active shooter. As evidence by massacres at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University recently, both of which employ an armed police department, armed security officers rarely if ever make it to the scene of a shooting in time to prevent the incident from occurring. The fact of the matter is that if a person has the will to destroy another human life and access to a gun, there isn’t much that an armed security officer can do. That being said, the borough of Princeton police department is literally 400 feet from campus. In the unlikely event that an incident occurs, I find it difficult to believe that security officers would be able to respond much faster than the police force. Let’s compare Princeton’s policy to another University, one who is more likely to need an armed police force. At the University of Pennsylvania, where shootings within a half mile of campus are a monthly occurrence, the vast majority of security personnel are unarmed. The University relies on the Penn police, stationed in a depot approximately 400 feet from campus, to respond to any serious threats. Since history and tradition is so important to Princeton, let’s explore the tradition of gun violence at the university. Two years ago, a teenage boy was seen carrying what appeared to be a handgun. It was in fact a water gun. There are no other cases of gun violence, or reported gun possession in recent memory at Princeton. While university shootings are unforeseeable, they are almost impossible to prevent due to their unpredictable and rare nature. Even armed security personnel are unlikely to be able to respond quickly enough to prevent the shooting. Psychological services and community awareness is much more likely to prevent such an incident in the first place. In addition, unarmed security personnel are just as effective as armed at deterring minor crime. It is unrealistic to believe that an armed security officer is going to have any effect on crime rates in Princeton or affect the outcome of a shooting. -The Ocho
      Posted by The Ocho on 03/04/2011
    • It is exactly because school shootings are unforseeable and "almost impossible to prevent due to their unpredictable and rare nature" that school officials should be as prepared as possible in the event that something would occur. If such a tragedy were to happen on campus, are university officials going to be able to tell parents that they did everything within their power to prevent and/or respond to the shooting? The answer would be no for Princeton's authorities. And it's disgusting that they can go to sleep at night being okay with this fact just so they can protect their guns-free "culture". They have no legitimate reasons to NOT employ armed security personnel - they certainly have the funds, the public security they currently employ are already trained in using firearms, and not to mention, the head of the public security they employ as well as other local police leadership have recommended that they do employ armed security. Moreover, outside police are not going to be as familiar with buildings or other features of the campus, which could hamper or slow down a rescue/protection/extraction process. Also, the comparison with Penn is not parallel. As you mentioned, Penn is used to having shootings near its campus - the police/security that respond are already well versed in the event of another shooting, on or near campus. Princeton is not - they would have no prior experiences in the event of a shooting. And, just because it's never happened doesn't mean it won't ever happen. Furthermore, even though Penn is practically immersed in the city, these shootings are not ON campus - they're in the streets of Philadelphia NEAR campus. There is a major difference between campus officials' policies and responsibilities for campus vs. just near campus. Also, even though MOST of the security at Penn are unarmed, there are still some that are armed. Princeton has zero armed officials.
      Posted by Jiesi on 03/04/2011
    • Actually, shootings at Penn do occur ON campus. In December a gunman was mowed down by the Penn police force after he fired shots at the police. He was on the main residential quad that includes 6 dorms. Last weekend a stray bullet from a shooter broke through the window of a Penn student Apartment. If an active shooter is on campus, security personnel are not trained to be the hero and single-handedly take him out. A security guard would wait for backup before confronting the shooter. Having one, or even two armed security guards at a residential building is not going to make a difference in the “precious seconds” wasted waiting for backup. Standard procedure is to wait for an emergency response team to arrive. If Princeton were to employ such a team, not only would it be costly but the team would likely not be better trained than police, and take just as long to mobilize. Having such this type of emergency response team, as well as paying for training of armed guards, is redundant and expensive. “They certainly have the funds” is not a legitimate argument for spending the funds. Should the government be spending $25 billion per year on foreign aid just because it “has the funds”? Armed guards certainly do not add to the culture at Princeton. Psychological services and community support might not only prevent such a shooting but are constructive for the community. If increased spending is your proposal, why not invest in a service that would benefit many students, instead of probably not dealing with a highly unlikely situation. The Ocho "So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets." (Mark 8:8)
      Posted by The Ocho on 03/04/2011
    • Perhaps you did not read carefully enough. From the original blog post I already made clear that the public safety personnel on campus are ALREADY TRAINED in handling firearms - so there will be no increased spending by allowing them to carry guns. And when i said that funds are not a problem, that's exactly what i meant -- a possible concern of increased spending is not even an issue because there WOULDN'T be an increase. Also, you keep bringing up Penn when the article is about Princeton. The settings are different and you still have not provided a proper response to my first point in my first comment. "If such a tragedy were to happen on campus, are university officials going to be able to tell parents that they did everything within their power to prevent and/or respond to the shooting? The answer would be no for Princeton's authorities." Lastly, the safety personnel that currently work on campus, as well as nearby police officials all strongly recommend that the University employs at least some safety officers with firearms. These trained experts are not wrong and university officials who sit in their lofty office buildings all day are definitely NOT more equipped to assess the safety needs of a campus.
      Posted by Jiesi on 03/09/2011
    • My only point regarding Penn is that Penn is MORE in need of armed security officers because there is MORE gun violence on and around campus than at Princeton, yet Penn employs a very similar security model. And if your concern is a shooter on campus, which is the only instance such a tragedy could occur, supplying officers with guns that are already on campus and already trained to use firearms would not solve the problem. In fact, it would not even come close. You would need to train an emergency response team, which requires constant practice due to the high level of teamwork involved. The security officers at Princeton certainly are not trained in this manner, and do not undertake the constant practice in emergency response that is required. Police are much better suited to handle such a matter than the current security officers. Hiring an emergency response team or training current officers in emergency response is a viable solution, but it would be costly. There WOULD be an increase in spending if you really want to tell “parents that they did everything within their power to prevent and/or respond to the shooting”. And while I do not argue the merit of security personnel on campus or local police, I challenge you to find a police or security protocol suggesting a single armed security officer take out a rampant shooter. Or maybe you could find a case where an armed security officer took down a shooter on a school campus without the help of an emergency response team. While this may occur in movies, it’s not how the real world works. The simple fact is that arming security guards won’t accomplish much of anything. Once a shooter decides to attack students, it is out of the hands of a single security guard.
      Posted by The Ocho on 03/10/2011
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