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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA debates campus gun bill

Ernie Somoza / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Alumnus Pete Gamble, 44, left, speaks beside criminal justice sophomore Joshua Walden at a forum concerning guns on campus hosted by ASUA in the Santa Rita room in SUMC Feb. 9, 2010.
Lisa Beth Earle
Ernie Somoza / Arizona Daily Wildcat Alumnus Pete Gamble, 44, left, speaks beside criminal justice sophomore Joshua Walden at a forum concerning guns on campus hosted by ASUA in the Santa Rita room in SUMC Feb. 9, 2010.

Approximately 50 students and faculty members stood up to express their views regarding guns on campus at last night’s public forum hosted by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.

People gathered in the Santa Rita Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center at 7 p.m. last night.

ASUA senators and Executive Vice President Emily Fritze sat at a long, horizontal table looking out into the crowd of eager forum participants and speakers were each given three minutes.

The first speaker, Pete Gamble, urged the need for guns on campus along with gun safety classes. To further demonstrate his views, he brought a gun safety poster.

He told the crowd and senators that he was opposed to the resolution and the ban on guns on campus. Gamble is a retired U.S. Navy and currently an National Rifle Association safety instructor.

“”You need to have options at the end of your fingertips,”” Gamble said.

ASUA Sen. Steven Wallace suggested hosting a public forum during last Wednesday’s ASUA meeting after several students protested the passing of a resolution opposing the proposed state Senate bill allowing teachers carrying guns on campus. 

The resolution was drafted by Sen. Tyler Quillin after the state senate proposed Senate Bill 1011 to allow teachers with concealed weapons permits to bring firearms onto university campuses.

The other senators agreed they needed to hear more from students about their views regarding guns on campus.

ASUA President Chris Nagata said he hopes the senators make a decision that is representative of the student body at large since only a small fraction of students attended.

“”Creating inner dialogue is the purpose of government,”” Nagata said. “”The senators have a responsibility to consider the input of their constituents.””

Both sides of the issue were addressed at the forum.

Steve Peugh, a systems engineer senior, referred to the campus as a “”vulnerable island.””

“”Criminals understand and know the law,”” Peugh said. “”If you want a whole bunch of sitting ducks, come to campus.””

Peugh didn’t sign up to speak at the forum but he said it is important to educate people about the “”decrease in crime statistics when firearms are present.””

Sara Button, a UA alumna and current middle school teacher said she doesn’t feel guns would increase the safety of the campus.

“”Having more concealed weapons won’t necessarily help the situation,”” she said.

Paul Hunter, a theatre arts senior is also against the senate bill and in favor of passing the resolution.

“”To me the Second Amendment is the reason our crime rate is so high in this country,”” he said.

Josh Walden, a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps student said he had been handling guns since the age of nine and is in favor of allowing teachers to have guns to better protect students. He argued it’s too easy to get on campus with a gun.

“”A sign will not stop anyone from bringing a gun on campus and shooting someone,”” Walden said.

James Allen, a political science sophomore argued against the bill and said that it is too risky to allow teachers to carry a weapon.

“”If there is a shooting, I would love for my professor to have a gun, but the risks are too high,”” Allen said. “”You have no idea what a teacher would do if they cracked.””

Francisco Lara, a social and behavioral science senior, argued that not enough students showed up to give their opinion and that the senators were not qualified to act on behalf of the students body.

“”I think the people who showed up (tonight) tend to be more informed about the issue,”” Lara said. “”I’m not so sure it would be appropriate for ASUA to make a judgment because (this is) an underrepresented sample of the people who might be interested on this campus as to how this resolution may turn out.””

Forum attendees consisted of mostly students but there were a few faculty members who spoke.

Jeremy Miranda, a UA alumni and former graduate student who taught several classes at UA said he did not feel confident in to carry a gun on campus.

“”To those of you who are in favor of allowing teachers to carry guns I just want to say that first of all I really respect that you feel you have the confidence to protect the lives of those around you … and secondly I am deeply touched that you feel I have that capability,”” Miranda said. “”But we scholarly types are a skeptical lot … and I hope you will forgive me if I don’t trust myself nor any of my peers to do that, we have different jobs.””

Peter Demars, an adjunct professor said he didn’t think the issue is a lack of guns on campus but rather a lack of other safety options.

“”I don’t believe we have a good plan for what we do if something does happen on campus,”” Demars said. “”I’d rather see some direction given the faculty on what a proper response would be in the absence of a gun in the classroom.””

The resolution will go to vote again at tonight’s meeting, which will take place at 5 p.m. in the Ventana room of the Student Union Memorial Center.

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