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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

ASU club pressures the university to allow campus carry

With the ultimate goal of giving students a chance to better protect themselves, an Arizona State University student group is in the process of petitioning to repeal the university’s policy barring students from carrying and storing weapons on campus.

“Whether that be changing school policy or changing minds so we can get some legislation enacted, our goal is the immediate restoration of that right on campus,” said Jacob Pritchett, the director of outreach for ASU’s Students for Self-Defense club. “We’re also trying to encourage the university to use some of the student safety budget on teaching situational awareness and gun safety.”

The club has started a petition to reverse ASU’s ban on weapons on campus so that it would be legal for students to carry weapons on campus. The petition has garnered around 350 signatures online and some more via paper petitions, according to Pritchett.

“We’ll try to get as many [signatures] as possible. The original goal was 100, but now we’d like to get a thousand,” Pritchett said. “Every time we get a bunch of signatures on this, it gets sent to the president [of ASU]’s office, supposedly.”

The Students for Self-Defense club has already met with school officials to discuss their petition, and while there are guidelines set by the Arizona Board of Regents that do not allow firearm possession on college campuses, Pritchett is confident in the progress the petition could make on campus.

“We think it’s getting people to listen,” Pritchett said. “We’ve already had a meeting with some school officials, and they’re definitely knowledgeable about what we’re doing. And they’ve acknowledged the flaw in their policy concerning self defense, where they basically indicate that they’d like you to carry pepper spray but don’t say it in so many words. But then they say the pepper spray is banned—we think we could create some change.”

The UA and ASU both have laws against weapons on campus, including a ban on Tasers, pepper spray and firearms.

At the UA, the campus has been declared a weapons-free zone by the board of regents. That means no firearms, knives longer than 5 inches, Tasers or even nunchucks can be on campus. If someone is found in possession of any of these weapons, the University of Arizona Police Department will ask them to store the weapon off campus.

“People can store a weapon in their car, but it’s not something that we want to have people do,” said Sgt. Filbert Barrera, public information officer for UAPD. “We would prefer [people] keep their weapons off campus.”

Barrera said that these incidents of finding people in possession of weapons do happen, but they are not too common. Those who do not remove their weapons from campus when asked to do so could face charges of misconduct involving weapons.

At ASU, the “use, possession, display or storage of any weapon” anywhere that is under the control of the university is prohibited, according to the ASU Police Department Manual.

Efforts like Students for Self-Defense’s to make change at ASU haven’t been repeated directly at the UA. Currently, there is no equivalent group at the UA, and Barrera said that he doesn’t know how successful they would be on the UA campus. He said he is sure, however, that allowing students to carry guns on campus could lead to confusion for him when carrying out a call to the scene of a gun incident.

He outlined his point with a hypothetical situation, in which he responds to a call about a woman in a red shirt and jeans with a gun in the Student Union Memorial Center, but there is another woman in a red shirt there with a gun who is not a threat.

“How are we going to differentiate right away? So the whole thing is that, unless you’re in uniform—unless you are a known law enforcement entity on this campus—and we have to respond to something, well then if someone [there] is similarly dressed, they just became [another armed person],” Barrera said. “It creates confusion, it creates a situation where it’s actually more unsafe, and it makes our job much harder.”

Barrera also said that police officers practice shooting once every quarter and undergo active shooter training every year.

“We can’t control how many times a private citizen goes out and shoots. We can’t control how familiar they are with the weapon, and so it’s something that it just creates more problems than it would solve,” he said.

When it comes to skeptics, though, Pritchett asks them to think over why they are against firearms on campus.

“The question we should be asking ourselves isn’t, ‘Do you like firearms?’ The question you should be asking yourself is, ‘Will this contribute to student safety, and also are these policies keeping other people from bringing firearms on campus?’ I think that the clear evidence here is that they’re not,” Pritchett said. “These rules aren’t magical force fields. It would be better to level the playing field and allow law-abiding citizens to carry.”


Follow Ava Garcia on Twitter.


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