Legislators are taking up the issue of guns on college campuses. Members of the House Local Government Committee passed a bill that authorizes the concealed carry of pistols on public university campuses under certain circumstances.
House Bill 1206 says that the Board of Regents, or any public university can’t adopt rules restricting the right or privilege of anyone to carry or possess a concealed pistol on university campuses, as long as that person is at least 21 years old. The university retains control over carry or storage policy in dorms, and may restrict the right to carry a concealed pistol as a requirement to host or participate in a national event or tournament.
Opponents of the bill include Board of Regents Executive Director Jack Warner. He says it takes away local control. He says the measure won’t make students safer.
“There’s no credible evidence to suggest that the presence of students carrying concealed weapons would reduce the violence on our campuses,” Warner says. “In fact, what does happen is that students overwhelmingly feel less secure, if you poll them then the students who feel more secure as a result of concealed carry on campus. And there is a modest risk of increases in suicide or homicide on campus as the use of firearms proliferates.”
But proponents, like Representative Lee Qualm say the measure will make campuses safer.
“For one thing I’m very confident that there have been people that have been carrying right next to you on campus, whether they had concealed or not.” Qualm says. “And the only way to get rid of a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. And anybody who a has a concealed permit I would consider a good guy. Because bad guys can have guns anytime anyplace they want to. If you think a law is made for them you can’t do that.”
Members of the House Local Government Committee passed House Bill 1206 with an eight to five vote.