Students on both sides of the “campus carry” debate gathered on campus Thursday night for a town hall meeting to discuss the impact a concealed firearm policy might have on campus.
Last month, state legislators in the House and Senate filed identical bills that would allow university students, faculty and staff with licenses to carry concealed handguns in campus buildings. Both bills are currently under debate.
Members of Students Against Guns on Campus said they hosted the event to give students an opportunity to have an open conversation with each other.
Accounting junior Andrew Jackson and Jordan Pahl, a Middle Eastern studies senior, co-moderated the event in the hopes that more students would voice their opinions, Jackson said.
“Obviously, this isn’t a one sided argument,” Jackson said. “This is a really heated issue not just with students, but also at the state Capitol where legislators are debating this, because it is an issue of student safety — everybody wants to feel safe on campus.”
Tuesday, Student Government passed a resolution in support of continuing the ban of concealed firearms on campus.
Evan Watts, a management information systems senior, said although he has a concealed handgun license, he does think license owners should have more training.
“My personal opinion is that the [amount] of training required by the state is not enough — honestly for the average citizen, but especially for college students,” Watts said. “In that sort of environment, there should be even more practical training with it … especially since they’ve lowered [the requirements] to four hours.”
If SB 11 passes, Watts said he would carry his gun with him on campus.
“I think that campus carry is something that is possible, but would require additional measures that take into account the unique environment of a university,” Watts said.
Government senior Brandon Mond said he has always had an interest in the issue of campus carry, but got more involved when the Senate heard testimonies for and against its bill last week.
When Watts suggested more training for students with the campus police officers as an addendum to the bill if passed, Mond said he hadn’t heard Watts’ idea before.
“I’m absolutely against campus carry, but … I think that’s very interesting, and I think that’s definitely something to explore if SB 11 passes,” Mond said. “I definitely think that’s something that should be required for all [gun carriers] on college campuses.”
At the Senate hearing last Thursday, Mond said he heard testimonies from people involved in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, as well as the 1966 shooting at UT, which resulted in 14 deaths.
“The overwhelming testimony from people who have been involved [in campus shootings] that is that [students with guns] certainly wouldn’t have helped the situation,” Mond said.