“My case is not rare. Currently, 1 in 4 women are raped during college. What is rare is that I am talking about it and trying to allow women to effectively defend themselves and preserve their livelihood.”
– Amanda Collins
Amanda Collins was raped at gunpoint on the ground floor of a parking garage on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.
State Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R) has vowed to do what she can to make sure there are no more women victimized on the campuses of state colleges and universities in Nevada.
It is hard to imagine any location that would have been safer for Amanda on the night she was attacked. The fourth-year student was on the floor where the university police parked their squad cars for the night.
College Student Raped at Gunpoint Near University Police Office
Yet Amanda was attacked and raped less than 50 feet from the university police office, thrown to the ground with a gun at her head, at 10 p.m., four hours after the police office had closed.
“As my life was hanging by the threat of a trigger pull, I knew no one was coming for me,” Amanda said.
The Reno Police Department arrested Amanda’s rapist 13 months later. She was finally able to put a name, James Biela, with the face that had haunted her for more than a year.
Biela was tried and convicted not only for Amanda’s rape, but also for the rape of another woman and the rape and murder of a third woman.
Rape Victim Had a Concealed Weapons Permit But Was Not Allowed to Carry on Campus
It is hard to believe this story could be any more tragic, but in a way it is. You see, Amanda had a concealed weapons permit. She owned a handgun. Amanda was trained to defend herself. But she didn’t have her gun with her the night of the attack because of a Nevada law that outlaws concealed weapons on college campuses without written permission from the college president.
“The law effectively legislated me into being a victim by stripping me of the equalizer I choose to use to defend my body and my life,” Amanda said.
“Had I been carrying my weapon that night, I would have been able to stop my attack in progress,” she added, “and as a result two other rapes would have been prevented and a young life would have been saved.”
State Assemblywoman Michele Fiore Is Determined To Change the Law
Assemblywoman Fiore wants to change that law. She had tried twice before. Both attempts failed.
But she has vowed not to give up her legislative efforts to make sure young women like Amanda will be able to protect themselves on Nevada college and university campuses.
For the third time, Fiore has introduced “Amanda’s Law” in the Nevada Assembly.
The legislation would also allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons “on certain property” of a public airport as well as on the property of child care facilities, public and private schools and property of the Nevada System of Higher Education.
Gun Control Advocates Oppose Amanda’s Law
Gun control advocates were enraged by the introduction of Amanda’s Law on Feb. 13.
They went white-hot ballistic when the New York Times quoted Fiore as saying the legislation was needed because “if these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm, I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”
Assembly Minority Leader Marilyn Kirkpatrick (D) issued a statement demanding an apology from Fiore.
“To claim that sexual assault is only happening to ‘young, hot little girls’ and that arming people can alleviate this problem is a false narrative,” Kirkpatrick said.
Fiore admitted on her Facebook page her use of the phrase “young, hot little girls” was probably not the “most eloquent” way to make the point. But Fiore wrote on her Facebook page that she would not back down.
“I stand wholeheartedly by that sentiment because I want every citizen, whether they’re on a college campus or not, to have the right to defend him or herself from sexual assault,” Fiore wrote. “So I ask, what’s your point? Are you opposed to the right to self defense or are you arguing that rape is the new normal of attending college?”
Daniele Dreitzer, executive director of Rape Crisis Center, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the victim of rape should never be blamed for the crime.
However, she added, “While we recognize the magnitude of the issue of sexual assault on college campuses, violence is never an answer to violence.”
Kirkpatrick accused Fiore and other pro-Second Amendment legislators of encouraging “shootout at the OK Corral fantasies.”
Founder of One Million United Supports Amanda’s Law
“She is wrong,” Vicki Kawelmacher, the founder of the Nevada-based women’s advocacy organization One Million United, told PJM. “And the first time this kind of violence slaps her in the face, she’ll think differently.”
Kawelmacher supports Amanda’s Law and has testified before the Nevada Legislature in favor of Fiore’s legislation, AB 148.
Despite failures to win approval for similar legislation twice before, Kawelmacher believes Fiore’s proposal stands a better chance this year “if only because we have more Republicans in office.”
Amanda Collins is also campaigning for the law that bears her first name. And she is now carrying a concealed weapon on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.
Kawelmacher said University of Nevada officials granted permission for Collins to be armed after the rape, but prohibited her from telling anyone about it.