Arkansans Against Guns on Campus are rallying to OPPOSE conceal and carry legislation
For Immediate Release: February 7, 2013
Under the banner “Arkansans Against Guns on Campus,” Arkansas residents are working against efforts by Representative Charlie Collins (R-84) to pass HB1243, a bill “To Allow Trained and Licensed Staff and Faculty To Carry A Concealed Handgun On A University, College, Or Community College Campus Under Certain Circumstance.” The bill would allow any campus member of the faculty of staff of that school to carry a concealed weapon. With supporters at the University of Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas Community College, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, Hendrix College, the University of Central Arkansas, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and other state universities, Arkansans Against Guns on Campus are rallying for support against allowing teachers and staff to conceal and carry. They cite recent support for gun-free campuses from over 300 college and university presidents and chancellors as evidence that conceal and carry is the wrong policy for Arkansas. More information here.
Arkansans Against Guns on Campus issued a SignOn petition calling for community support against conceal/carry legislation that to date has reached over 1400 signatures, many of whom express outrage over the Collins bill. That petition can be found here.
Their Facebook page can be found here.
Bentonville resident Lisa Turner Duncan, parent of a University of Arkansas student, supports Arkansans Against Guns on Campus because she worries that: “legislators may hastily pass a law that allows inexperienced and only minimally trained individuals to possess firearms on campuses. The presence of firearms has been proven to promote more aggressive behavior and in the hands of an untrained individual allegedly posed to “defend” others in an explosive situation, would possibly create a “false sense of security” promoting risky behavior.” She adds, “I strongly do NOT believe that this law will be any deterrent to those violent and psychotic assailants determined to carry out carnage. In a large percentage of cases involving mass shootings, the majority of the bloodshed has occurred within minutes and sometimes seconds due to the use of automatic assault weapons. In most of these cases, the assailants had no fear of consequences including death.”
Zachary Pharr, an NWACC staff member and supporter of Arkansans against Guns on Campus explains his opposition to conceal and carry, arguing, “Liability insurance for schools would skyrocket. Education is already expensive. That increase in cost has to go somewhere, and it would be passed on in the form of tuition increases most likely (or budget cuts, staff cuts, etc.).”
Likewise, Jared LaReau, a UCA student and supporter of Arkansans Against Guns on Campus explains, “I know that I would not be comfortable in the classroom knowing that the person next to me probably has a gun. Look at the John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy findings that expanding our conceal carry laws results in more aggravated assault. They also found that the South was the most violent region in the country. With these facts, I could not feel comfortable if UCA allowed guns on campus." LaReau cited a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, which demonstrated that gun possession alone increased the likelihood of being shot by almost 4.5 times.
The link is here.
Stephen K. Boss, University of Arkansas Professor of Geosciences opposes conceal and carry on campuses in Arkansas, as well, saying: “Since opening its doors to students and citizens of Arkansas on January 22, 1872, the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville has been a place of enlightened thought, tranquil study, and advanced learning. The peace and tranquility pervading our institution is proved by the fact that a classroom has NEVER been disrupted by gunfire in our 141-year history. Today, I join with thousands of Arkansans in absolute opposition to proposed legislation introducing concealed weapons in our classrooms, our campus offices, administrative buildings, and at our other scholarly activities. Permitting weapons of any kind on any state campus for any reason whatsoever does not create a safer community of learners but instead invites tragedy. It is reckless, it is irresponsible, and I oppose it.”
Finally, University of Arkansas English Professor Sidney Burris, organizer of the SignOn petition adds that the Collins bill itself has several problems: “First, the prohibition of civilian guns from our campuses doesn’t tamper with the Second Amendment—Justice Scalia settled that issue in Columbia v. Heller (2008) when he wrote that the Supreme Court’s majority decision should not cast doubt “on laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings. . . .” Second, it’s illogical that a novice handgun owner could spend a single day in a training session spent mostly behind a desk, and become licensed to discharge a weapon in a crowded student union or classroom, endangering those present. And finally, guns and the free exchange of challenging ideas—the very lifeblood of our community—simply do not mix. Introduce the one, and the other inevitably cowers, while honest inquiry gradually disappears in an atmosphere of retaliation and intimidation. Coercive legislation of this sort arises from a politics of fear, and Arkansans deserve more from their elected officials.”
Boss and Burris also cite a report from the Violence Policy Center demonstrating that handguns are a horrible choice for self-defense, particularly on a college campus.
Arkansans Against Guns on Campus sees the Collins bill as a reckless intervention into campus safety and supports the decisions of university and college administrations to monitor safety of their campuses as they see fit. They will be attending the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce legislative forum on Friday, February 8 at 4:00 at 123 W Mountain St in Fayetteville, AR to voice their concerns about the bill to Collins and other legislators.
Contact: Sidney Burris, Professor of English at: email@example.com/(c) : 479-283-4601
*Disclaimer: The views expressed above represent the individuals’ opinions and not those of the institutions at which they are employed.