EDUCATION

Gun-rights advocates carry weapons on George Mason campus

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A group that advocates for gun rights staged a demonstration on the George Mason University campus Wednesday, where people brought their weapons onto campus to protest laws prohibiting students from doing so.

"I feel safer than everyone else does,” said Tom, a member of the Virginia Citizens Defense League who wouldn’t give ABC7 his last name.

He and others were carrying weapons while classes were in session at George Mason University, part of a protests led by the Virginia Citizens Defense League against a policy barring students and campus employees from carrying concealed weapons on campus.

Under Virginia law, no student or employee can bring a concealed gun onto campus. If you are not a student or staff member and you have a permit to carry a gun, you can walk around grounds.

"The students, faculty and staff that are 21 and over that have the training and the permits and they are carrying everywhere else go - it makes no sense,” said Philip Van Cleave of the league.

"The state permits me to carry a weapon and this is a state-funded school, why can't I at least carry it in my truck?”

“I don't think it is in the interest of public safety,” another student responded.

Joe Samaha's daughter Reema was killed in the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech. Gun-rights advocates argued that had students been armed, the massacre might have been stopped. He disagrees.

"I think if you talk to the students that were in the classroom that did survive, that they would tell you just the opposite,” Samaha said.

Students and protesters debated the issue Wednesday. Sophomore Brandon Philsinger has a permit to carry. He can’t bring his gun to school.

"I think it's great we can have an intelligent discussion,” said Ladd Everitt of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Campus police made sure visitors who could legally arm themselves didn't take their guns inside buildings.

George Mason university spokesman Dan Walsch says administration will not budge on its policy. He recommends demonstrators take their battle to Richmond and try to convince elected officials.

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