Deseret News & Associated Press & Rick Jervis / USA Today – 2011-09-30 00:36:41
NRA Aims to Lobby for Guns on Campus Again
Deseret News & Associated Press
POCATELLO, Idaho (September 25, 2011) — A National Rifle Association lobbyist says the guns-right lobby will attempt to persuade Idaho lawmakers next year to allow people to carry concealed weapons on college campuses without a permit.
The Idaho State Journal reports that Matt Dogali of the NRA at a meeting at Idaho State University last week said people should be allowed to carry a concealed weapon without a permit and to bring that weapon onto campuses.
Earlier this year lawmakers decided to leave it to university leaders to decide how to regulate firearms.
The House passed a measure that would have prohibited schools from banning firearms anywhere on campus except in undergraduate residence halls, but state senators killed the bill, arguing “there are times and places where guns are not appropriate on campus.”
State Lawmakers Push to Allow Guns on College Campuses
Rick Jervis / USA Today
(September 29, 2011) — State lawmakers across the USA are pushing a growing number of bills this year that would legalize carrying guns on college campuses, according to groups tracking the trend.
This year, at least 14 states have introduced 35 bills that would allow students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on state colleges and universities or loosen restrictions on gun bans on campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Meanwhile, two states, Maryland and Washington, have introduced bills to prohibit guns on campuses. None of the bills have passed so far.
Last year, nine states introduced bills that would legalize gun carrying on campus while another nine states proposed barring the practice, according to the group. In Texas alone, six bills introduced this year would make it legal to bear arms on campus, says Brenda Bautsch, an education-policy analyst with the National Conference of State Legislators.
“We’re seeing more bills,” she says. “And there are far more bills to allow guns than to prohibit them.”
The emboldened effort to legalize guns on campuses comes on the heels of a ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals on Wednesday that repealed a university gun ban. In that case, a student was suspended from Western Oregon University for possessing a handgun. The court overturned the university’s ban on guns, saying the state university system did not have the authority to prevent students or faculty from carrying weapons on any of its seven universities if they were licensed to do so.
The Colorado Supreme Court is deciding on another case that would allow guns on university campuses. Utah so far is the only state with a law allowing concealed weapons on state campuses, Bautsch says.
The issue of whether to allow guns on campuses has been hotly debated since the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, where a student opened fire on campus, killing 32 people and wounding 25. Opponents say allowing guns on campuses would not make them any safer for students and the mix of guns with alcohol and drugs found on some campuses could lead to increased incidents involving guns.
People legally licensed to carry a gun shouldn’t give up their Second Amendment right to bear arms just because they attend a university, says Kevin Starrett, executive director of the Oregon Firearms Educational Foundation, which represented the student in the Oregon court case.
“People who are licensed to carry guns in Oregon meet a certain criteria,” Starrett says. “They do not suddenly lose their minds when they step on a college campus.”
Two recent US Supreme Court rulings favorable to individual gun owners have emboldened states to introduce legislation that would allow guns on campuses, says Andy Pelosi, head of Gunfreekids.org, an advocacy group that opposes guns on campuses. The group has fought some form of guns-on-campus legislation in 23 states this year, he says. Since 2007, 65 similar bills have been defeated in 32 states.
“It’s definitely been a very active year, to say the least,” Pelosi says.
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