A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, February 27, 2009

Scared and Uncomfortable

John Wahlberg was at work one night when he received a message that the authorities "requested his presence". Being a good citizen, Wahlberg went to the police station. Inside, he was questioned and officers began to read a list firearms that were registered under his name, wanting to know where he kept them.

Sound like fiction? It happened at Central Connecticut State University. Wahlberg had unfortunately given a presentation on school violence as an assignment in a communications class. He talked about the Virginia Tech killings of 2007, and went on to say that had concealed carry been allowed on the Virginia Tech campus, Seung-Hui Cho might have been stopped before he killed thirty-two people.

"I was a bit nervous when I walked into the police station," Wahlberg said, "but I felt a general sense of disbelief once the officer actually began to list the firearms registered in my name. I was never worried however, because as a law abiding gun owner, I have a thorough understanding of state gun laws as well as unwavering safety practices."

Wahlberg's instructor, Paula Anderson, reported Wahlberg's presentation to campus police claiming it caused a "scared and uncomfortable" atmosphere in the classroom. So much for the free exchange of ideas, or even reasonable discourse in academia. "If you can’t talk about the Second Amendment, what happened to the First Amendment?" wondered Sara Adler, president of the Riflery and Marksmanship club at CCSU.

Paula Anderson has written a response and declined further comment. Her email at the university is andersonpau@ccsu.edu

More: Professor Takes Heat for Calling Cops on Student Who Discussed Guns in Class

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Darrell said...

"...a list firearms that were registered under his name"? Who requires registration?

9:43 PM  
Anonymous ditto said...

Where can her response be found?

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The state of Connecticut requires a form when selling or transferring handguns. The form is sent to the Connecticut Dept. of public safety firearms division.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Mauser*Girl said...

So it's pretty much safe to assume that, if any essays in this class don't jive with this teacher's personal believes, the student presenting the essay can expect a visit from the authorities?

If I were to write an essay on, say, the Third Reich, will police ask me what Nazi items are in my home, where I keep them, and why I have them?

Has this woman been fired yet?

2:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Who requires registration?"

Every firearm purchased by a law-abiding citizen from a licensed dealer is registered to him/her at the point of sale via a federal form numbered 4473.

The only legal method to buy a firearm without it being registered to you is to buy a used one from another fellow within your own state (and there are even some exceptions to this).

12:00 PM  
Blogger Rick "9mm" Ector said...

I read the story twice and I am still at a loss as to why the police wanted to talk to the subject of this story. Does merely having a cogent discussion about firearms generate probable cause as to the possible commission of a crime? I am disappointed at the professor, as colleges and univerisities are supposed to be places where rational coversations are supposed to take place.

1:56 PM  
OpenID simarilian said...

In Oregon we just had an Ex Marine student at Western Oregon University arrested on a report by someone on campus for legal concealed carry. The authorities soon realized he had not broken any law and refused to prosecute for any crime. The University held an uninformed peer court which suspended the student and assigned an essay on why it's important to follow the law before considering a return.

The student is going else where and starting a suit against the person who accused him.

I recommend the same style suit against the elite who called the authorities on this person.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Kevin T. Keith said...

Being questioned in that way sounds ominous, but we are given very little information here, and only from the perspective of the person complaining that he was mistreated.

There is nothing indicating what he actually said in class. Though I know it is fashionable to be contemptuous of colleges and college students and faculty, it is hard to imagine that the statement that "had concealed carry been allowed on the Virginia Tech campus, Seung-Hui Cho might have been stopped" would cause many of them to feel personally threatened. And I presume that the campus security "wanting to know where he kept his [guns]" was actually a request to know if he kept them in a school dorm or on school grounds - which would likely violate school policies or state law. From this story alone we can't know anything about what he actually said, but the official reaction seems to have been aimed at the question whether he was carrying or hinting at carrying weapons of his own - not merely that he approved of CCW licenses. (Note that the story does say they asked him where his guns were; it does not say they asked him why he supported concealed carry.) If he did give some indication that he was carrying on school grounds, it would be reasonable to at least ask about that.

But on the basis of no information at all, you are posting the professor's e-mail address. (To what purpose? - you know it's just going to result in harassment.) Some of you immediately call for her to be fired, on the basis of no detailed information whatsoever, and in response to nothing more than reporting what she thought was a possibly unsafe situation. (Even if she's wrong, it's not a firing offense. You want people to report possibly dangerous situations, and you want the police to question people who give an indication of possible danger or of violating the law. Most of the time it turns out to be nothing, but we don't hound people out of their jobs for asking the police to check it out.)

Apparently the gun community has run out of traitors in its own midst to Zumbo-ize and destroy for even minimal dissents, and is now seeking to blacklist and professionally destroy individual "civilians" (as it were) who may have anti-gun opinions, or just be over-cautious. And the reason you're trying to get a total stranger fired for asking the police to investigate a possible gun-law infraction, without actually knowing any of the relevant facts in the situation, is . . . you think she over-reacted. Because she's apparently one of those anti-gunners who think you are, you know, closed-minded, hyper-reactive, belligerent, intolerant, and likely to cause harm to others without justification.

Boy, that'll show her. And all the others. You've really made your point.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Kevin T. Keith said...

I read the story twice and I am still at a loss as to why the police wanted to talk to the subject of this story.

It doesn't say. Nobody here knows. Normally that would be grounds for withholding judgment until the facts are clearer.


Does merely having a cogent discussion about firearms generate probable cause as to the possible commission of a crime?

(a) No. But there is nothing other than his own description to indicate that all he offered was "a cogent discussion about firearms". We do know he was discussing - and advocating - on-campus concealed carry (not just the general subject of "firearms"), and that his discussion of it made at least some people nervous enough that the professor felt she had to alert the police. There is no good information to indicate what was actually said, or whose judgment - his, in choosing his manner of expression, or the professor and students, in reacting to it - was reasonable or otherwise.

(b) It's not an issue of probable cause. He wasn't arrested, they didn't serve a warrant on him. They just asked him to come in and answer some questions, apparently about whether he had guns on campus (they are explicitly prohibited by the campus Student Code of Conduct). He was technically free to decline to answer, though of course it's very intrusive and intimidating to be questioned in such a way. But the newspaper article says nothing about him being arrested or charged with anything, and he was apparently not subjected to any campus discipline either. As near as we can tell, he said something that made someone think he might have guns present where they are prohibited, the police asked him about that, and the matter was resolved. Pretty straightforward.


I am disappointed at the professor, as colleges and univerisities are supposed to be places where rational coversations are supposed to take place.

Again, there is no indication what the student actually said, or whether it was "rational", or whether it indicated, rationally or not, that he might be breaking the gun-possession policy. As for the police involvement, it would certainly be annoying, and may have been unwarranted, but it hardly seems like a big deal. People are supposed to report possible violations of the law, and the police are supposed to follow up. It clearly wasn't done with malicious intent, and there is nothing in the news article to indicate it was a suppression of free speech. There is some information indicating that what they were interested in was enforcing the existing policy on carrying guns on campus, not on talking about them - which is a very different thing.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Rick "9mm" Ector said...

@Kevin:

The "authorities" don't just ask anybody to come down to the station for cookies, milk, and casual conversation. If you are asked to come down for questioning, don't be an idiot and volunteer any info until you have had a discussion with your attorney. Better yet, take him with you. Plain and simple, it was an interrogation conducted on the flimsiest of pretenses. This story is particularly chilling. It is all too easy to get railroaded and punished for a "non-crime."

4:07 PM  
Blogger Rick "9mm" Ector said...

@ Kevin

People are supposed to report possible violations of the law, and the police are supposed to follow up.

If every person reported "possible" crimes, as you suggested, we would live in a police state. It is "possible" that every person who posted on this thread is breaking a law, however there is no evidence to support such a claim. If someone "slandered" me, such that the police wanted to talk to me, I would pursue legal action.

4:14 PM  

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