Students against concealed carry weapons on campus

Tribune News Service
Map of the U.S. showing concealed weapon carry laws by state for 2011. Chicago Tribune 2011

Kaley Patterson
A&E Editor
@KaleyKayPatt

An unnecessary amount of school shootings occurred across American campuses in the last decade – unfathomed warzones with no explanation of reason or victory. Politicians and voters consistently argue over what is a better line of defense: allowing concealed carry weapons on school grounds or keeping them off the premises.

The Cameron University Student Government Association recently passed Resolution: 3114008, “A bill calling for the prohibition of concealed carry weapons (CCW) on college and university campuses.”
The legislation credits the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics by stating that while on campus, college students are safer than the school’s surrounding population and community.

Authors SGA Vice President Nikki Kirk and Treasurer Casey Meeks argue in their legislation by saying there is no credible evidence of deeming armed campuses as safer, allowing CCWs would complicate the jobs of campus police officials, CCWs would not have a positive impact on Cameron’s campus and would decrease the safety and security of the university and its inhabitants.

The legislation passed through the CU SGA governing body on March 10 with 17 in the yes, eight in the no and five in the abstention. Even though there was a large amount of legislators abstaining, Kirk believes the students are still doing their jobs as SGA officials.

“That was a weirdly high number,” Kirk said. “I think some people almost felt a little bit uncomfortable about it … just with the idea like maybe they were for it and just didn’t want to say that in front of everybody. People don’t want to be perceived as violent if they’re in favor of [concealed carry].

“But at the same time, I was glad there were some NOs because it shows that they actually went back and spoke to their constituents … I was glad there was a difference of opinion because it showed that people actually did what they’re supposed to.”

Right now in Oklahoma, it is illegal to have CCWs on the campuses of state institutions. Currently there are legislations dealing with the issue of CCWs on college campuses in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Oklahoma Senate Public Safety Committees: HB 1143, HB 1265 SB 557, SB 461, SB 212 and SB 553.

Kirk said other universities in Oklahoma drafted similar bills to make known their opposition of CCWs on college campuses and presented their ideals to the Oklahoma Capitol. Resolution 3114008 voices Cameron University’s opinion of CCWs on campus which will be heard by the Oklahoma Legislature.

“After the reading during the questions, somebody asked where it would go and how long it would take to get there,” Kirk said. “Zeak [Naifeh] said that after it was approved in chamber, it would be at the capitol within the week. So it should already be there.”

Kirk said the CU SGA has not heard from the Oklahoma Legislature regarding Cameron’s opposition to CCWs on college campuses. Student Activities Specialist and SGA Co-Advisor Leslie Cothren believes Cameron’s opposition does have an influence even though there are currently state legislations dealing with this issue.

“The purpose is for institutions of higher education to kind of say, in general, ‘We don’t really want weapons on campus,’” Cothren said. “Because while there are various bills out there that kind of talk about it, even if they get out of the committees and they die doesn’t mean it can’t be added on to a different amendment or bill somewhere else.

So it’s kind of just to make a statement to go, ‘We like things the way they are. We don’t want this to happen. We don’t think it would be a good thing on our campus or on education campuses, in general, for that to happen.’”

If legislation in the Oklahoma Legislature passes allowing CCWs on college campuses, Cameron – a state institution ­– would have to comply with the state law even though the university has an amendment in place voicing opposition. But Cothren said the bill would not be ignored entirely.

“Your legislation is always good since it has passed and moved forward,” Cothren said. “It’s good to say, ‘Yeah, this is important to us.’ So it’s not really killed, since ours already passed. Even if all the other bills passed, and it happens and there’s handguns, we still have said, ‘We don’t really like them here.’ It doesn’t change anything, but we’ve kind of made our statement.”

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