Rape Victim to Testify on Campus Carry Law

LAS VEGAS – The ability to carry a firearm on Nevada’s college campuses could have prevented her brutal rape, says a victim who will testify before the Senate Government Affairs Committee tomorrow in Carson City.

Reno resident Amanda Collins will tell her story to legislators who will be weighing the merits of Senate Bill 231, the “campus carry” law proposed by Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas. If passed, the legislation would lift prohibitions on carrying firearms on Nevada college campuses.

Soft spoken and small in stature, Amanda Collins said she was defenseless when serial rapist and convicted murderer James Biela attacked her in a University of Nevada Reno parking garage.

Though she was a licensed gun owner with a concealed weapons permit, Collins was unarmed when Biela assaulted her less than 300 yards from a campus police office.

Earlier this summer it took a Nevada jury just six hours to convict James Biela of the rape and murder of Brianna Denison. Biela was also found guilty of three other felony charges, including the rape of a Collins in October 2007 and the rape and kidnapping of another woman a few months later.

Recounting details from the night of her attack in an interview this week, Collins said she left her classroom with a group of students at approximately 10 p.m. The students walked to a nearby parking garage and all but Collins, who had parked on the ground floor, ascended the stairs.

Collins said as she approached her own automobile, Biela grabbed her from behind and pulled her to the ground. He then put a pistol to her forehead and told her not to say anything as he clicked off the safety.

Collins stayed silent and was then raped at gunpoint, she said.

Collins said she would have been carrying her firearm and would have defended herself that night had campus rules permitted it.

“I know at some point during my attack I could have stopped it,” said Collins. “Had I been able to do so, two other rapes would have been prevented and a life could have been saved.”

Collins said she later submitted a request to the president of the university to be permitted to carry a concealed weapon on campus. The request was granted under a requirement of nondisclosure.

“Had SB 231 been the current law, my family and myself would have been saved a lot of torment,” said Collins.

“Because of the fact that I was rendered defenseless, this man was allowed to be at large and to continue to rape other women in the community, and consequently he murdered a young woman as well,” added Collins.

Gregory Brown, a history professor at UNLV, this week argued against the campus carry legislation on the UNLV Faculty Alliance website, saying the measure would “almost certainly” increase the likelihood of violent shootings on campuses.

Pointing to laws and violent incidents in other states as well as studies concluding that more guns lead to more violence on campus, Brown argued the legislation is unnecessary because data shows crime incidents are less frequent on campus than in surrounding neighborhoods. Brown said that fact along with others will be presented by Public Safety directors from NSHE campuses at Friday’s hearing.

Brown also said the law would “further damage the credibility of our already battered System of Higher Education” and that there was “no need, and much danger, inherent” in the bill.

Collins disagrees.

“If the university is going to deny individuals the right to participate in their own defense by carrying on campus, then they then assume the responsibility for ensuring the safety of every individual that steps onto that campus,” said Collins.

“And I know from my experience and from my knowledge that they are failing miserably despite their best efforts,” she said.

Collins acknowledged that lighting has been improved and more call boxes have been installed around the UNR campus and in parking garages since her attack, but she called the measures “inadequate.” She called for “a serious evaluation and discussion” about how realistic it is for universities to ensure the safety of students.

“A call box directly above my head, potentially, while I was being straddled to the ground by James Biela would not have helped me,” said Collins.

“The one equalizing factor when you’re attacked by someone much larger than you is a firearm, and that’s just the reality of it,” said Collins, who has obtained formal self-defense training in the past.

“I think that people lose sight of the fact that the only way to stop a bad person with a gun is with a good person with a gun,” said Collins.

“That is why when police respond to a call that says ‘shots fired,’ they bring their guns,” said Collins. “And while first responders are necessary, and they are good, immediate responders are better.”

Carrie Herbertson, a representative of the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm, said Collins’ story is a compelling argument in favor of the campus carry law, and that the law as it exists makes little sense because concealed carry weapons permit holders are subject to the same standards on campus as off campus.

“What makes individuals with firearms on a campus any less or any more dangerous than off campus?” asked Herbertson.

Herbertson said concealed weapons permit holders are trained in police protocol including immediately identifying themselves and putting down their firearm when first responders arrive on a crime scene. She contends that allowing properly licensed firearms owners to carry their weapons on campus would reduce, not increase violent crimes at colleges.

“We are talking about trained, law abiding permit holders who are subject to the same standards off campus as they would be on campus,” said Herbertson.

Churchill County Sheriff Benjamin Trotter recently wrote Herbertson a letter in support of the legislation.

Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick, familiar with Collins case, will also submit a letter in support of the legislation to the Committee this week.

Audio clips:

Reno resident Amanda Collins says she could have stopped her attack with a weapon:

031711Collins1 :19 have been saved.”

Collins says if SB231 had been law, she would have been saved a lot of torment:

031711Collins2 :09 lot of torment.”

Collins says rendering her defenseless did not protect her from violent crime:

031711Collins3 :24 woman as well.”

Collins says if university students can’t carry weapons, university is responsible for safety:

031711Collins4 :25 their best efforts.”

Collins says an emergency call box would not have helped her:

031711Collins5 :11 have helped me.”

Collins says a good person with a gun can keep a crime from happening:

031711Collins6 :13 with a gun.”

 

 

  • Anon

    She had a gun to her head before she every could have reacted and she actually thinks having her own gun would have stopped this? She wants us to ignore the statistics that overwhelmingly support the reality that most people carrying guns die to their own guns. She also wants us to ignore the fact that the attacking would have taken any weapon she had away from her.
    The real reason she wants a gun is because she was attacked and is now scarred. She doesn’t feel safe without a gun even though having a gun doesn’t actually make you safe.
    Do they actually think we’re stupid?

  • http://twitter.com/yodasworld David Phillips

    Why do so many people think that more guns in schools equals less violence? That is insane thinking . I am a gun owner, and I believe that Americans have the right to own guns for self defense, sport shooting, etc. But I also believe that there are some places that should be “Gun Free Zones” such as Schools, Airports and Government buildings.

    What happened to Ms. Collins is horrific, but in her recount of the rape she only says that she might have had the chance to get to her gun at some point during the rape. That’s all speculative and by her recount it sounded like she would not have had the chance to get to her gun. I don’t know for sure if she could have or not. But I am sure that more guns will lead to more shootings, it is a proven statistic.

    “If the university is going to deny individuals the right to participate in their own defense by carrying on campus, then they then assume the responsibility for ensuring the safety of every individual that steps onto that campus,” said Collins.

    On this I agree 100%.

    Guns on school grounds is not the answer.

    Its funny how people think, we ban guns on planes because of hijackings, but that didn’t stop 911 from happening. Now we ban just about anything that might be considered as a possible weapon, and we basically search every passenger before boarding just short of strip searches, which they do if they even have the slighest inkling that a passenger looks threatening in some way.

    In the 70′s there was a TV show called “All in the Family” the main character was Archie Bunker, played by Carroll O’Conner, and on one episode Archie says he knows how to stop air plane hijackings, simply give everyone who boards the plane a gun and then they give back the guns as they deplane.

    But we don’t do that at airports, we pat people down, place them in an x-ray type machine and search the carrying on bags (but not the luggage in the cargo holds).

    If carrying Guns on school grounds is the answer, then Archie Bunker was right, everyone who gets on a plane should be armed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25510557 Charley Vu

    Going for your gun first in an ambush situation is generally a bad idea.

    Disarm and combatives techniques for guns pressed against your side or your head have been taught to LEOs and soldiers for years. They still do this because, well, it works.

    Training in weapons retention will also help keep your weapon away from an assailant, but for the most part, creating distance between you and your attacker is what keeps your weapon out of their hands.

    She may not have had a size advantage but any combatives move thrown against the assailant (an arm against the gun hand) would have forced him to reassess his situation, allowing her (provided she has enough training) to draw to engage.

    The old training methods of “stand and deliver” with the good guy just standing there making tight groupings is what gets you killed and what contributes to the anti’s so-called “gun taken away from you”

    Thankfully, we now have force-on-force training with airsoft gas-blowback pistols that bring you as close to a real attack as possible. Perhaps then the reality of the fight will be discovered and then the antigunners will crumble.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25510557 Charley Vu

    What makes the LEOs who are in schools, airports (sky marshals), and government buildings better than the rest of us?

    What makes them The Only Ones, when they are just as human and fallible as the rest of us?

    When some police agencies open their training to civilians, where will you draw the line?

    When there is an incentive to train, where will you draw the line?

    We are NOT talking about arming everyone. We are talking about giving people the choice whether to be armed or not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25510557 Charley Vu

    “Why do so many people think that more guns in schools equals less violence? That’s insane thinking. ”

    That’s pretty damn similar to what the antis thought when concealed carry was introduced in the first place,

    they kept saying,

    “Why do so many people think that more guns anywhere equals less violence? That’s insane thinking.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25510557 Charley Vu

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vpkldtiq-BA

    an example of force-on-force training – check 3:18 in the video. Remarkably similar to the horrific situations Miss Collins has described. “Learn a martial art.” Well, yes and no. There is a reason why there are weight classes in boxing and in the UFC – a big 6’5″ 250 lb guy would probably plaster a small 5’9″ 160 lb guy within seconds. Combatives can be used to kill but more often they are used to get you off of your assailant’s line of attack whether that line be the path of a knife or bullet.

    Yes, some of the good guys DO get shot. Sometimes being shot in these situations is unavoidable, and sometimes, it is avoidable. The overall benefit is that you may have wounded or killed your assailant that would have probably kept on killing, stealing, raping if he/she didn’t meet any resistance.

    Let it also be known that in that class where the video was taken you could not actually touch the bad-guy role-players even though combatives would have been a perfectly valid option. People rotated between good guy and bad-guy so injuring your own training partners is generally a bad idea.

    Speaking with the company representative from Tactical Response, the whole idea of this specific exercise was to allow you to test out your decision-making process about when to engage or what not. Sometimes you die in training, but you die in training and you learn from your mistakes so you don’t die in real life.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25510557 Charley Vu

    The only gun free zones that should be in existence are those privately owned areas where the owner is not beholden to the Constitution.

    We gave our money to the State which is SUPPOSED to follow the Constitution in all respects. Streets, roads, sidewalks, schools, airports, government facilities – all paid for with OUR tax dollars. I want money being spent by a government that follows the Constitution. In case you haven’t forgotten, it’s “government by the people and for the people.” WE own the government – we just pay them full time to watch things for us. The power has always rested in our hands. The Bill of Rights are things the government cannot do to you. The 2nd Amendment has said to the government, “You cannot stop or impair the ability of people to obtain and carry arms.”

    Mr. Democrat Examiner, perhaps you should really stick up for the little guy and actually fight for everyone’s right to self-defense anywhere and any time. If a society is supposed to be measured by its base, it would be wise to ensure that the base is protected from the upper class’s monetary predations as well as physical predations from those within the base.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25510557 Charley Vu

    waronguns.blogspot.com

  • AKhammer

    She could of shot him at anytime when the psycho was concerned with other things pertaining to her. Oh and all checked luggage is screened by the TSA…… Some gun owner you are….

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=25510557 Charley Vu

    And of all things, you’re taking a Hollywood (which is not known for realistic ideas) SITCOM seriously?

  • Dsparil

    and of course they’re not going to allow weapons. They’d rather have the campus look pretty, peaceful, calm and politically correct at the expense of peoples’ actual safety. I’m a member of the law enforcement community and I’ll tell you right now that the call boxes and “sufficient lighting” claims are a joke. Your safety is your personal responsibility. Honestly, I’d be suing the state right now for denying me the ability to take responbility for myself.

  • Anonymous

    So you agree with Gun Free Zones even though virtually all mass shootings happen in Gun Free Zones. Columbine. VA Tech. Amish school. Beslan. Trolley Square. Luby’s Cafeteria. Hmmm. Your argument is full of bullet holes.

    And you think the University should be responsible for the rape? How about the rapist being responsible? Should we accept that horrible crimes may be committed upon us as long as some higher power is held ‘responsible?’ Are they supposed to give each student a bodyguard?

    As for airplanes, it is proven that bullets will not cause a catastrophic decompression of a commercial airliner. A few armed passengers could have saved thousands of lives on 9/11.

  • Anonymous

    Please cite your claim that “most people carrying guns die to their own guns.” My studies lead me to believe that you can’t.

    Guns don’t make you safe? Really?

    You might want to check out the results of a Google search of “armed citizen” before you make such outrageous claims.

  • Moose

    You claim that more guns lead to more shootings. First of all, that’s not a proven statistic as you claim. Secondly, those shootings that do occur are more likely to involve the bad guy getting shot whereas when the weapons are illegal it is more likely that the good guy gets shot.
    It seems kind of silly of you to compare the safety of an airline, in which every person aboard is screened for weapons and a college campus which has zero screening of the people who enter. On top of that, you prove the point that a ban on weapons doesn’t stop bad things from happening – why don’t we at least give the good guys a chance to defend themselves.
    Make fun of Archie Bunker all you want – it sure would have stopped the hijackings cold if there had been some armed good guys aboard.

  • Moose

    It is a ridiculous assertion that most people carrying guns die to their own guns and I defy you to find a peer-reviewed study to support it.
    As for the attacker taking her gun away – the attacker probably never would have known she had it until it was too late for him. Proper training takes care of both the gun to the head scenario (human reaction times generally suck) as well as weapon retention.
    She doesn’t want the gun because she is scarred. She already had the gun and the school wouldn’t let her carry it. She had and still wants the gun, because she knows that nobody is responsible for her safety but her and she knows that the gun is the most efficient and effective way for her to provide for her safety.
    I didn’t think you were stupid until you started posting your inane drivel that appears to be nothing more than a few random Sarah Brady talking points.

  • User

    Very sad testimony of Miss Collins reliving her assault.  That said I believe she would be dead if she had had a weapon.