Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The Arizona legislature has drafted a horrendous bill for the safety and goals of Arizona’s institutions of higher learning. Absent a veto from conservative Jan Brewer, Arizona is likely to pass Arizona SB1474 which compels all Arizona colleges and universities to allow anyone to bring guns on campus. The bill also requires schools to allow guns to be brought into all buildings unless the entrances of such buildings provide lockers for guns to be temporarily stored. This means that universities must allow students and faculty to bring guns to the classroom unless the classroom is located in a building that provides secure weapon storage.
Currently, Arizona’s universities have a choice whether to allow students to bring guns to campus. All three of Arizona’s major universities have decided to prohibit students from bringing weapons designating university campuses as “weapons-free zones.” For some reason Arizona legislatures think it is ok to disregard the fact that all Arizona universities have chosen to forbid guns and that all three of Arizona’s university chiefs of police are against allowing students to bring concealed weapons on campus.
SB1474, if successfully passed, would have some awful consequences for Arizona schools. Guns are highly fatal and just one pull of the trigger can be devastating. In an environment where alcohol is present and prevalent, the chances that one of the thousands of university students accidentally pulls the trigger (particularly if intoxicated) is great. Guns do not increase safety, but rather increase intimidation. Not to mention guns bring an added threat to campus life. Student gun owners now will have an additional threat for coercing students into engaging into non-consensual acts such as rape. Allowing weapons on campus also create a university stigma upon entering the classroom regarding who the possible threats on campus are.
Additionally, requiring secured storage facilities for every building that prohibits guns in its classrooms brings an added cost, which will unfortunately lead to higher tuition rates. At a time where Arizona schools and students are suffering extreme financial hardship, this bill is a measure we simply cannot afford.
It is worth noting that several months ago the Arizona legislature passed a similar guns on campus bill; however, the bill never entered into force due to Jan Brewer veto. I applauded Brewer for her veto, but unfortunately her reasoning for the veto was simply that the bill’s language was ambiguous and overbroad. Perhaps there is hope that Jan Brewer will acknowledge the importance of the views of the university officials who have the greatest stake in the outcome of the bill.
I leave you with this: Should we be comfortable allowing politicians decide what is best for our universities instead of the universities deciding what is best for our universities?