Jan 31, 2011 7:57 AM
TUCSON - Should guns be allowed in class? It is a question brought to the forefront by two new bills which could allow for concealed weapons on Arizona college campuses.
House Bill 2001 reads, in part: "A faculty member may possess a concealed firearm on the grounds of a community college... a provisional community college... or a university... if the faculty member possesses a valid permit..." (To read the bill in its entirety, click here).
House Bill 2014 reads, in part: "The governing board of any university, college or community college shall not enact or enforce any policy or rule that prohibits the possession of a concealed weapon by a person who possesses a valid permit..." (To read the bill in its entirety, click here).
The bills were proposed in December, before the tragedy in Tucson on January 8th. Yet in the wake of the shootings, faculty, students and police at the University of Arizona have many strong opinions on the issue.
"I think that faculty should have the right to carry a weapon on campus, for self defense, especially with the events that have just happened in Tucson," U of A senior Brian Betschart said.
"I think it would make most people feel much less comfortable. I think it could potentially cause recruitment problems for us," U of A Associate Economics Professor Mark Stegeman said.
U of A Police Chief Anthony Daykin does not think the bills are a good idea.
"I would encourage the legislators that if they are committed to having people in addition to law enforcement be armed on campuses, that they look seriously at enhancing the training," Daykin said.
State Represtentative Jack Harper proposed both bills but declined our request for an interview on this topic. He gave News4 a statement saying:
"House Bill 2001 would allow college and university professors with a Concealed Carry Weapon permit to carry concealed on campus regardless of the failed anti-defense ideology of the Board of Regents. When law-abiding, responsible adults are able to defend themselves, crime is deterred. HB2001 is a bill that was requested by university professors. With four hours of range time on gun safety, four hours of classroom time on gun laws of Arizona, an FBI background check, I feel that faculty members with a CCW should no longer be sitting ducks on Arizona's colleges and university campuses."
As of right now, there is no schedule for the bills to be voted on. In the meantime, both bills are garnering mixed reaction at the U of A.
"It will delay response by police, it will cause confusion," Daykin said.
"As long as they get a background check and people know that they are mentally stable," U of A freshman Amy Vu said.