Graphic courtesy of Armed Campuses
Graphic courtesy of Armed Campuses

Gun debate reaches college campuses

Texas Gov. Greg Abbot signed a bill allowing students with a permit to carry concealed weapons onto public university campuses. In response, last week, students at the University of Texas at Austin organized a protest after noting that it was now legal to carry a gun on campus but illegal to carry a dildo.

Texas is not the only state to consider changing their gun laws.

In Wisconsin, state legislators have introduced a bill to allow students to carry weapons on college campuses. According to Armed Campuses, an organization that aims to keep guns off college campuses, nine states including Wisconsin and Texas allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus, while an additional 21 states allow individual universities to decide their weapons policies.

Michael Curtis, a professor at the Wake Forest School of Law whom specializes in constitutional law, said that one of the major differences between the University of Texas and Wake Forest is that Wake Forest is a private institution.

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“There is no Second Amendment issue with Wake Forest banning guns, because the guarantees of the Bill of Rights limit states, they don’t limit private persons,” Curtis said. “The only problems Wake Forest would have would be if a state statute said private universities had to allow people to have guns on campus,”

As more states develop their own laws on the issue, Curtis believes the Supreme Court will eventually make their own ruling.

“What the Supreme Court will end up doing is deciding what the contours of the right to bear arms will be,” he said. “But at the moment, at the Supreme Court level, that’s not well developed.”

On the Wake Forest campus, students are not permitted to possess weapons of any kind, including pieces of weapons like gunpowder or bullets. This matches the general state law of North Carolina, which labels carrying a firearm of any kind, openly or concealed, onto school property as a Class I felony.

However, there is one major exception for public universities in the state. Those with a concealed weapons permit are allowed, as of 2013, to keep weapons inside their cars on school campuses, as long as the firearm is in a locked compartment inside the locked car.

Private schools do not have to allow this exception, and Wake Forest does not. Students are not permitted to have firearms on any area of campus.

In a statement for the Wake Forest College Republicans, junior Joe Macy, the organization’s chairman, stated that it is important to consider both the rights of individuals and of private universities in this situation.

“The Wake Forest College Republicans do not believe it is ever appropriate for the government to infringe upon anyone’s second amendment rights,” Macy said. “If a private academic institution feels banning guns is something they want to do, we believe they have the right to do so.  This, however, may not be in an institution’s best interest, as there is no statistical evidence to show banning guns on college campuses makes students safer.”

Interviewed students generally did not feel like more guns on campus would improve safety, especially at a small school like Wake Forest.

“I think on a small campus like Wake Forest, where we have guard gates and people generally know each other, students don’t need guns,” senior Sam Larsen said. “However, at larger institutions, where the campus is significantly more open, then I could see why students would feel the need to have guns to protect themselves. But in general, I think students on college campuses don’t need guns.”

Sophomore Kellen Datta agrees that guns on campus are not necessary.

“The cons to having students carry guns outweigh the few and unlikely positives,” Datta said. “It’s a lot more likely that a gun will go off or be stored improperly and hurt someone than a situation would arise where a gun would be used timely and efficiently to stop it.”

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