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Survival at UNH: A bookbag won't save you

February 27. 2013 6:08PM

As the police chief at the University of New Hampshire, Paul Dean must protect and control a rambunctious student body on a sprawling campus while working within the college's politically correct bureaucracy. The challenges are endless. Some are trivial, some are terrifying.

Last week (Feb. 20), he spoke to more than 100 faculty and staff about the topic that causes nightmares at every school: "Surviving a Campus Active Shooter Event."

As promoted, his seminar was to feature "important safety information on how to respond if an active shooter is on campus ... (and) specific information to improve your safety during a shooting event." The chief clearly understood that his worried community needed practical advice.

In the lecture, Dean said potential victims of a campus shooting have three options: fleeing, hiding or "taking out" the attacker. "Find a way to protect yourself and do what you can to survive," he explained. He urged the campus community to feel comfortable with the final option: forcing a shooter to stop.

That's easier said than done, of course. And it's all but impossible at the state's colleges. UNH's restriction on personal protection extends far past guns. It includes all weapons and even prohibits pepper spray. So when dubious staffers asked how to fight back, Dean could only propose that a counter-attacker might wield a book or a backpack to do "whatever it takes."

One physics professor, perhaps aware that polyester won't stop a bullet, criticized his answers and asked, "What are we supposed to do?" Dean called that an individual decision.

The chief was right. In a crisis, you may be on your own. That is one reason why the Second Amendment must be defended.

Ironically, last year Dean opposed legislation designed to end the University System of New Hampshire's sweeping prohibition of guns. He told a committee that the bill was misguided because vulnerable students should not have to fear gun violence. Now, with that reform proposal dead, he is admitting that his gun-free campus cannot be an island of safety in a dangerous world.

The chief did not intend to concede that a ban on guns actually increases his university's vulnerability to a madman. However, he did. We hope his audience listened closely.

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