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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Guns on campus?

    The state Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday to support legislation to let students and staff at community colleges and state universities carry permitted guns for protection.

    The committee voted 4-3 and the bill will now go to the Senate floor for debate between all members.

    The bill originally included a K-12 provision, but was removed because the bill was unable to get the amount of votes needed to get through, said Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, and the primary sponsor of SB 1214.

    Sgt. Eugene Mejia, spokesman for the University of Arizona Police Department, said weapons on campus would cause confusion for police officers on campuses.

    “”It would make our job more difficult,”” Mejia said. “”If the legislation approved the carrying of weapons by many people on campus it could be disruptive because right now if we get a report of a weapon on campus, we respond in force.””

    He said more weapons on campus could be unsettling to the educational setting because of more reports of weapons.

    Johnson, however, said the bill is important.

    “”All of the officers think they are more than capable of handling the situations, but in every situation we’ve had they have always been there after the fact,”” Johnson said.

    Mejia said there are potential flaws in the proposal, such as not requiring the person carrying the weapon to have any recurrent training or recertification in the use of the weapon.

    “”You obtain a permit after eight hours of training and you’re allowed to carry a concealed weapon for five years,”” Mejia said. “”Our offices go through extensive training in weapons use.””

    He said even police officers lose accuracy over time in stressful situations, and there could be devastating results if a person who obtained a permit after only eight hours was in the same situation.

    “”There are a lot of potential negative unknowns,”” Mejia said.

    UAPD police chief Anthony Daykin went before the Senate committee and testified against legislature along with the police chiefs from Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University.

    “”I do not believe the solution is to put more guns on campus,”” Daykin said.

    He said UA President Robert Shelton and the Arizona Board of Regents are also opposed to the legislation.

    “”The university has taken a position against it. Now it’s up to the people involved,”” Daykin said.

    “”We have always stressed early reporting and intervention rather then flooding a locale with more weapons,”” Mejia said.

    Johnson said self protection is needed.

    “”They can’t be everywhere. It’s just important that we be able to protect ourselves more now than ever before because for whatever reason our society is getting more violent,”” Johnson said.

    Mejia said an officer responding to a shooting incident has a split-second to identify whether the person firing is a criminal or a person defending themselves.

    “”In that scenario, it’s going to be very hard to distinguish between the two,”” he said. “”And during that time, multiple people are getting shot.

    “”The persons proposing the laws have good intentions, but from our perspective it would hinder our ability to respond quickly,”” Mejia said UA students are split in their opinions on the topic.

    Steven Tellez, an economics senior, said he supports the proposed bill because of the Second Amendment. He said anyone can walk onto campus with a gun, and students should have the right to defend themselves.

    “”People behind the guns kill people, not guns,”” Tellez said.

    History sophomore Logan Peppars questioned the need for guns on campus.

    “”Do we really need more guns on campus?”” Peppars said. “”People just get stupid with guns.””

    Peppars said he thinks the UA is “”pretty safe”” and that he sees a lot of police and other departments actively involved in UA security.

    “”I’m against passing a concealed weapons law because I’m for de-escalating potential problems,”” Peppars said. “”More guns are more of a problem.””

    Michael McGrogan, a chemistry junior, said he supports the bill and would carry a gun if he had the opportunity.

    Stephen Schober, an economics senior, said teachers as well as police are responsible for students’ safety.

    “”Teachers should have the option to carry guns because they’re responsible for their students,”” Schober said. “”In an immediate situation the police might not always be there.””

    Schober said he’s not sure if he feels students should carry guns because he doesn’t feel they are as responsible.

    “”Teachers don’t go around shooting each other,”” Schober said.

    “”I’m completely against it,”” said chemical engineering junior Joe McGee. “”I don’t think we should have guns at any school campus.””

    Students and teachers at school are under a lot of stress, and having guns on campus could lead to more problems, he said.

    McGee said battling guns with more guns wouldn’t work.

    “”What? So we could have gunfights at the O.K. Corral? Nobody needs guns on campus,”” he said.

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