As a graduate student, I take issue with the recent article concerning graduate students and our safety both on campus and outside the patrol area of the Yale Police Department. This is an issue of personal responsibility — the University and the YPD should not be criticized for events that occur outside their power of control. The Supreme Court, in DeShaney v. Winnebago County and again in Castle Rock v. Gonzales, declared that police forces have no duty to protect individuals against crime; for all of their individual professionalism and heroism, both the NHPD and the YPD as organizations are clean-up squads whose only true duty is to take a report and cart the victim off to the hospital or the morgue.

The University, however, is guilty on two major counts.

First, programs like the so-called safety orientation that Dean Butler touted do not reach a plurality of students, nor are they effective. Telling students to wait for the Yale Shuttle after the sun goes down isn’t a realistic solution to crime. Failing to distribute maps pin-pointing the exact locations and types of previously reported crimes is verging on the criminal.

The second failing of the University can’t be helped by a risk-averse academic institution: graduate students are left more vulnerable than undergrads. Far more graduate students live off-campus, in areas that are less secure than the heart of Yale’s patrolled residential areas. The University could increase graduate student safety, but they haven’t.

Why? Because that would require taking to heart the lessons of Virginia Tech and the Appalachian School of Law to heart , and permitting those off-campus students who have met all of the State of Connecticut’s requirements to carry concealed firearms on campus.

Of course, Yale isn’t a “flyover country” and I don’t expect many to sympathize or truly consider my suggestion. The counter-arguments will say we shouldn’t be “arming students” (as if the National Guard is going to start passing out M16’s) and that students and faculty wouldn’t feel “comfortable” (find the the Right to Comfort in the Bill of Rights). I posit that when you shop at IKEA, or Wal-Mart, or Stop-And-Shop, there are trained citizens there carrying their Glocks, Colts, and Smith & Wessons. Virtually every lawful handgun owner in Connecticut is both trained and entrusted to carry their handguns concealed in public by the State. You never see them, but they are there. That’s the point of proper training and a mandate to conceal the firearm…no one knows its there; not the criminal and not the passers-by.

For all of the talk about “the freedom to choose” and “reasonable” and “common sense” gun control, there is precious little choice, reason or common sense on the side of those who despise firearms.

The University, by fiat, takes away the choice of graduate students to defend themselves with the most effective lawful means possible.

It is reasonable to differentiate between those who may carry a firearm and those who are vetted and trained (which the State does). It is also reasonable to restrict on-campus and fraternity-house residents from storing firearms in their rooms due to concerns of underage access and alcohol consumption.

However, it is neither reasonable nor common sense to eliminate a powerful deterrent from the streets of New Haven and Yale University by universal disarmament of all students, no matter who they may be or how well-trained they are. If the criminal element knew that some minority of students were trained and armed, the spillover benefit to the rest of the University community would be immense.

Lastly, the YPD and NHPD will certainly complain that this isn’t a wise idea — officer safety and all that.

I propose that we ask them how many officers have been assaulted by lawful citizens carrying a concealed weapon with a State-issued permit. The solution to police and liability concerns is to simply register all students who wish to carry with the YPD. Then, the officers know who the “good guys” are, and the University has a mechanism to ensure compliance with all applicable State and Federal firearms laws.

The Yale community and the police have nothing to fear from armed students.