“Starting today, law could bring more guns to campus”

Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat

The Arizona State Legislatures new law now allows gun owners to have their firearms concealed in their vehicles on the UA campus.This sign denoting a weapon-free zone in Tyndall Garage is one of many that could be taken down from different sites around campus.

Lisa Beth Earle

Lisa Beth Earle / Arizona Daily Wildcat The Arizona State Legislature’s new law now allows gun owners to have their firearms concealed in their vehicles on the UA campus.This sign denoting a “weapon-free zone” in Tyndall Garage is one of many that could be taken down from different sites around campus.

Will Ferguson

A new gun law goes into effect today that will allow firearms to be kept in a motor vehicle on campus.

The new law, Arizona Revised Statute 12-781, states that any firearm brought onto university property must remain locked in a privately owned vehicle and must not be visible from outside of the vehicle or motorcycle.

Previously, state law required a person to have a concealed weapons permit in order to keep a weapon in a motor vehicle. The new law revokes this restriction.

President Robert Shelton released a statement on behalf of the UA faculty condemning the new law at the Sept. 23-24 Arizona Board of Regents meeting in Flagstaff.

“”The faculty of the UA would like to express grave concern about the safety of our students and staff,”” Shelton said.

The Faculty Senate voted to issue an official statement to this effect at their Sept. 14 meeting.

Both ABOR and UA faculty have publicly stated their opposition to the new law.

“”We are talking about an environment where we have a lot of youngsters who are away from home for the first time,”” said Regent Bob McLendon. “”We have a responsibility to provide an environment where these folks feel safe.””

However, the new law will not impact how University of Arizona Police Department officers interact with the campus community, said UAPD spokesman Sergeant Juan Alvarez.

“”Arizona law allows weapons to be carried in public,”” said Alvarez. “”UAPD officers are trained and knowledgeable when dealing with potentially armed individuals.””

Student reaction to the law has been mixed. Chemistry freshman Casey Whitlatch said he supports the new law.

“”We have a freedom to bear arms,”” he said.

Retail and consumer science senior Destiny Pina, said she wasn’t aware there was a new law until asked, but was concerned.

“”I think it’s a safety issue,”” she said.

Alvarez said the university has been and remains one of the safest areas in Tucson.

Weapons will still not be permitted outside of a vehicle, he said.

According to UAPD crime statistics, nine arrests were made for weapons violations in 2008 out of a total of 13 reported incidents.

“”Our role is to enforce the law,”” said Alvarez. “”We always continually strive to create a safe environment at the university.””