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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Forum held on concealed carry

Students, Teachers, Police and other concerned members of the public gathered today outside of Old Main to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed gun legislation that is currently being looked at by the Arizona leislature. David Venezia/ Arizona Daily Wildcat
Students, Teachers, Police and other concerned members of the public gathered today outside of Old Main to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed gun legislation that is currently being looked at by the Arizona leislature. David Venezia/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Traci Sepp, a sophomore majoring in political science and theatre arts, said that at 110 pounds, she would be no match against a man threatening her in an emergency situation. Her need to carry a gun for self-protection inspired her to speak out at yesterday’s forum on Arizona gun legislation that would allow concealed weapons to be carried on campus.

“”My dad has always taught me that he might not always be there to protect me, as much as he would like to,”” she said.

Looking to University of Arizona Police Department Chief Anthony Daykin, she said police might not be there in time either. “”They won’t be there when I’m faced with a criminal, though they can help me pick up the pieces after,”” Sepp said. “”I am asking you to please protect my ability and my right to protect myself by supporting this legislation.””

Sepp was one of the few students who showed support of guns being allowed on campus at the public non-partisan speaker series, hosted by the Graduate and Professional Student Council and the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. About a hundred members of the UA and Tucson communities gathered in front of the Old Main fountain at noon on Wednesday to discuss the impacts of the legislations.

Many students carried posters that read “”GUN FREE ZONE,”” and handed out stickers for people to show their opposition.

ASUA recently passed a resolution expressing concern over the bills. ASUA President Emily Fritze said allowing a gun onto a campus averts students’ attention from the purpose of the university, which she said is “”learning, not arming.””

“”Allowing concealed carry at the UA distracts from the mission and shifts the burden of self-preservation from campus and public safety officers to students and faculty, many (of) whom are not comfortable with this,”” she said.

Lt. Deanna Coultas from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department spoke on the behalf of Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik about tactical dangers posed by not knowing who has a firearm. She said a crossfire situation could cause proliferation of firearms in an enclosed area, like a classroom.

Both Coultas and Fritze said they believe the university should be a place where intellectual debate is encouraged.  

“”Students and professors alike should not have to fear that the person with whom they are discussing an idea is going to get angry and pull out a weapon,”” Coultas said.

The UA Faculty Senate publicized its official statement of opposition to Carrying a Concealed Weapon on campus during its meeting on Monday, and UA President Robert Shelton recently released a statement which said the UA was “”unambiguously opposed”” to having guns on campus.

Duke Schechter, UA alumnus and Membership Director of Arizona Citizen Defense League, was in full support of having guns on campus. Schechter said he prefers to call firearms and weapons “”personal anti-assault tools.”” He compared a gun to a hammer, which “”can be used for good or evil.””

“”We talk about all the no gun signs on campus. Are they any more effective than the no skateboarding signs?”” Schechter asked the audience. He added that many people who should not be carrying weapons on campus could do so anyway.

“”We’ve been told this is a safe campus. I wonder how certain people in the School (College) of Nursing felt about that when they were attending … when I was a student on this campus,”” he said, referring to a gunman that took the lives of three professors before killing himself.

Mark Dougherty, a junior majoring in public management and policy and a military veteran, was also in favor of the legislation. He said that carrying a concealed weapon is not the distraction Fritze said it would be.

“”It’s concealed, so you won’t know it’s there,”” Dougherty said.

He added that a person must pass an eight-hour class on firearm handling, safety, weapons aptitude and Arizona gun laws in order to receive their Carrying a Concealed Weapon permit.

“”You can’t take away somebody’s right to defend themselves,”” he said. “”A police officer can’t always be there for you, and you can’t guarantee that anyone else will look after your well-being with the exception of yourself.””

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