I did an interview on CNN this morning in an effort to explain my discomfort with HB 750 by my colleague, Representative Joe Driver and SB 354 by Senator Jeff Wentworth. Both bills would mandate that public colleges and universities allow concealed handgun license holders to carry their weapons on campus including the classroom.
This and a similar bill by Senator Jeff Wentworth is an unwelcome mandate on public institutions, which have been working for the past couple decades to increase safety on college campuses.
Let me state that I believe the second amendment , the right to bear arms, is vital and important. But at its heart this is not a gun-rights issue; it’s a local control issue and campus safety issue.
I have never heard a university president, professor or police chief say they are in favor of allowing guns on campus. In fact, I have heard the opposite from law enforcement: Allowing concealed weapons would lead to confusion and increased danger should they ever need to respond to a shooting incident on campus.
We should allow our institutions of higher learning make their own decisions on this issue. In fact, current law allows colleges and universities to decide for themselves whether to allow guns on campus. The law is not broken. There is no need to fix it.
Our focus as legislators should be about making colleges and universities environments in which students can learn with minimal distractions. Professors have a hard enough time keeping student’s attention with cell phones and laptops being so pervasive. I can’t imagine that adding guns to that equation is going to create a better learning environment.
The Legislature should not be putting more mandates on underfunded public institutions. If our focus is safety on campus, lets prevent violence by promoting more campus police and mental health services for students.