New policy could allow guns on campus, IU opposed

IUS Horizon

According to the IU website, Indiana University’s current firearm policy states that firearms are not allowed on campus without written permission from the Chief of Police, but if passed, an Indiana Senate Bill could make it illegal for state universities to regulate the ability to carry concealed firearms on campus.

Indiana Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, and Sen. Jim Tomes, a R-Posey County, submitted the bill. The bill, Indiana Senate Bill 97, would make it illegal to regulate the possession of firearms on any land owned or leased by the state.

Banks said he heard from a number of students at different universities in Indiana, including IU Southeast, that expressed interest in being able to carry concealed firearms on campus.

“These are licensed gun owners,” Banks said. “These are responsible adults that follow the law.”

Banks said the Indiana state constitution affords the right to carry firearms, and he believes it should not be limited.

He also said he spoke with female students who carried a firearm for personal reasons and expressed a desire to be able to carry a firearm on campus for protection.

Mark Land, Indiana University associate vice president of public affairs and government relations, said Indiana University officially opposes the bill.

“We’re opposed to a bill that would take decision making out of our hands,” Land said. “We find we are in the best position to determine our own policies.”

He said that Indiana University believes campuses should be allowed to make their own policies concerning firearms because campus officials understand their own campus environments.

Land also said Indiana University believes in the police force and its ability to keep students safe. He said the university does not believe that introducing firearms on campus will make students safer.

“It could potentially have the opposite effect,” Land said.

Drew Appel, criminal justice junior, said he supports Senate Bill 97. He said he believes the bill would help make campuses safer.

“The people that carry off campus are the people that are going to carry on campus,” Appel said. “If a person is all right to carry at Walmart, they’ll be all right to carry on campus.”

Appel said if concealed-carry weapons were allowed on campus, students would be able to protect themselves in the case of a violent incident.

He said that while the campus has security measures in place, IUS police cannot be everywhere.

“The idea of the bill is that since universities are state-funded, they should follow state gun laws,” Appel said.

Appel said that anyone carrying a concealed firearm on campus would have a permit and training, so it would not make campus more dangerous.

“It’s not like we’re going to have vigilante justice,” Appel said.
Andy Pelosi, director of the Campaign to Keep Guns off Campus project from the website Gunfreekids.org, said there are several reasons to keep firearms off campuses.

“Add handguns and you get potential unintentional shootings,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi said that campus security should be left up to trained law enforcement.

Pelosi said that an average gun carrier has the potential to cause collateral damage in the case of a violent incident.

“Police have much more practice and training to deal with actual shooters,” Pelosi said.

Pelosi said that college campuses are already generally safe environments.

Pelosi said that while it is good to have strong campus security, allowing guns on campus would cause more harm than good.

Gunfreekids.org is an internet-based advocacy organization that was founded in 2007 after the Virginia Tech shooting.

Pelosi said the organization is focused on educating the public, speaking to policy makers and lobbying to protect families from gun violence.

According to the IU website, Indiana University’s current firearm policy states firearms are not allowed on campus without written permission from the Chief of Police.

Banks said he looks forward to bringing up the topic for debate.

“It’s important to have reasonable discussions about these kinds of issues,” he said. “That’s what we do in the legislature. We raise issues and hold responsible debates.”

By HANNAH ASH

Staff

hash@ius.edu