Xander Walsh carries a heavy load around the Ferris State campus, but he’s not complaining. He wants to add a few more ounces to his right hip.
Walsh has fashioned a black gun holster while on campus to raise awareness for the concealed carry of a pistol on Ferris grounds. Currently, state law prohibits the carry of a concealed weapon on university property.
“People can carry in a lot of places around Michigan, and we trust the good, honest, law-abiding citizens to do so. We don’t think that the right to carry [a pistol] should end when they come onto campus,” Walsh, Ferris junior in professional golf management, said.
Walsh has a concealed pistol license (CPL) for which he learned gun safety measures and the state laws concerning gun ownership. He believes students with the correct licensing should be able to carry a pistol with the exception of inside a classroom.
The sight of a gun holster on Walsh’s hip has gone relatively unobserved, according to Walsh.
“A lot of people carry cell phones on their belts, so wearing an empty black holster may have gone unnoticed,” Walsh said.
To spread the message, Walsh and fellow Ferris student Dalton Keller started Ferris Students for Concealed Carry, a Facebook group with over 100 “likes.”
The Ferris chapter is part of a national organization which has more than 43,000 student members fanned out over all 50 states, according to concealedcampus.org.
Walsh hopes to turn the online group into a Registered Student Organization (RSO) in the foreseeable future. He would need to find a faculty member, maintain five student memberships and file the necessary paperwork among other steps to be in good standing with the university, according to the 2012-13 RSO Handbook sent out by the Student Leadership and Activities Office.
The majority of polled Ferris students agree with Walsh, as eight out of 10 students did not have serious concerns of a student carrying a concealed weapon on university grounds.
“I would think ‘Why does he think he needs to carry it here?’ I consider Ferris to be a pretty safe place,” Matt Cregg, Ferris junior in energy systems engineering, said.
Of students in support of gun carry on campus, many of those polled are current gun owners.
“If you’re going to take the time to apply, get your permit, go through the necessary means, you’ve proven to be responsible enough to carry,” Travis Weber, Ferris senior in welding engineering technology, said.
Ferris students can purchase a gun from a variety of places around Big Rapids following a background check mandated by state law.
Brenton Goldthwiat, manager of Trigger Time Outfitters, has seen a significant increase in gun sales for college-aged residents and applications submitted for CPL classes over the past few months.
One of the most popular gun models has been the Springfield XD, according to Goldthwiat. This is the same model which Walsh owns.
“It’s not like we’re hoping to be in a situation to use it. It’s the last thing I want. We just want to be able to protect ourselves on campus,” Walsh said.