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Outrage of the Week: Student's Self-Defense Leads to University Disciplinary Action

Friday, November 15, 2013

This week's outrage comes to us from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.  There, two students living in an off-campus, university-owned apartment were put on probation for the "infraction" of displaying a legally-owned firearm to thwart a home invasion by a convicted felon.

According to a CNN article, on the night of October 24, students Erik Fagan and Daniel McIntosh were in their apartment when there was a knock on the door.  Fagan told CNN affiliate KXLY in Spokane that he opened the door and a stranger, who said he'd just gotten out of jail, asked for $15.  Fagan told KXLY he offered the man a blanket and a can of food, but "didn't feel comfortable" giving the man money because he was a stranger. 

"My gut instinct was telling me I wasn't going to be able to get that door closed before he came through," Fagan said.

As the man started coming through the door, Fagan said he yelled for his roommate, McIntosh.  McIntosh said he came to the door holding his pistol.  When the man saw the gun, the students say he turned and ran away.

The story notes that all university housing is patrolled at regular intervals by campus security, but this particular apartment complex isn't gated, and secured key cards or codes are not required for entrance.

The students called 911 and campus security.  A short time later, police captured the suspect, whom they identified as a six-time convicted felon with an outstanding Department of Corrections warrant.

If the story ended here, we'd have yet another example of how a firearm was successfully used for self-defense against a dangerous criminal without the firing of a shot.  But the story continues.

Unbeknownst to Fagin and McIntosh at the time, having a firearm on university-owned property, is a violation of Gonzaga policy, whether or not that property is located on campus.  At 2:00 a.m. the next morning, campus security officers returned to the students' apartment and confiscated the pistol and a shotgun from the apartment.  The shotgun is owned by Fagan, who uses it to hunt and for sport shooting, and it was not used in the incident.  The pistol belongs to McIntosh, who has a concealed carry permit.  It was a gift to him from his grandfather.  

Based on their act of self-preservation, the two students were placed on probation for the rest of their time at Gonzaga.  The penalty will also be a part of their permanent record.  The students are appealing the decision.

After quickly gaining national infamy for its actions, the university has agreed to review its policy and has returned the firearms to the two students but with the stipulation that they not be stored at any property owned or operated by the university.  In other words, Fagan and McIntosh, and all other students living in University property, remain unarmed in their own residences, a fact that will likely not escape notice of the local criminal element.

Gonzaga University reacted to the victimization of its own students on University property by punishing and disarming them. That is outrageous.

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