UA Student Council Hosts Forum on State Gun Law

Posted on February 11, 2010

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FEB 11, 2010

Those of you with especially keen memories will remember that back in September (interestingly enough, the last time a firearm-related resolution came before ASUA), journalism student Brian Mori offered a guest report of the GPSC meeting where a walk-out was considered. We’re fortunate enough to have him back again, to offer an actual news report – with sourced quotes! and background grafs! –  on last night’s forum, hosted by ASUA. Enjoy (although this will probably not be the final post on the matter).EML

Originally published 2/11/10 on Desert Lamp http://www.desertlamp.com

There were more than just students among the crowd of about 50 gathered Tuesday night in the Santa Rita room of the UA’s Student Union Memorial Center to discuss what stance student representatives will take on current Arizona gun legislation.

The Senate of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona hosted the hour-and-a-half long call to the audience after heated objections from students during last week’s senate meeting.

Last week, ASUA proposed a statement against Arizona Senate Bill 1011, which would expressly allow university faculty with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campus.

The resolution also requested an exception to the current policy allowing for concealed-carry permit owners to keep guns in cars parked on campus lots, overturning a previous resolution passed last September.

ASUA’s proposed resolution echoed opposition by University of Arizona President Robert Shelton, the University of Arizona Police Department, and the Arizona Board of Regents that guns simply do not belong on campus.

The Senators were silent as the undergraduate and graduate students, a couple alumni, a UA professor, and co-owners of a Tucson based firearms safety instruction company spoke of their opinions of the legislation and ASUA’s position.

The remarks were limited to three minutes a person, and the speakers raised several questions including: the likelihood of increasing firearms related accidents, the need for professors to intervene in mass-shooting scenarios, a lack of a campus attack response plan, the state and federal constitutions, and ASUA’s role in speaking on behalf of students.

“Any sort of shooting is absolutely unacceptable but I’d rather have 1 or two dead bodies to 30,” Josh Walden, a student at both Pima and the UA said before the forum.

Most who supported the legislation, including Walden, cited the mass murders at Virginia Tech and Columbine as examples of where students and teachers were defenseless against depraved assailants.

In 2002, a University of Arizona medical student shot and killed 3 professors before committing suicide. Speakers at Tuesday’s discussion forum disagreed on whether or not he had a concealed weapons permit.

“Teachers sign contracts that they are first and foremost responsible to protect students. That’s why we have fire drills, tornado drills, and bomb drills,” said Erin Goheen, a UA student.

Currently, all weapons – including firearms – are banned from Arizona college campuses, although the Arizona state constitution forbids preventing an individual from bearing arms in defense of their person.

“In reality, weapons and firearms are already being carried in and out of classrooms everyday,” Walden added later. “That sign (prohibiting guns) is not going to stop them from pulling the trigger.”

Sarah Button, a UA alum and Tucson middle school teacher said that it’s more important to improve weapons permit background checks to include mental health screenings before giving professors rights to carry guns where students cannot.

Button said professors with guns are more likely to confuse police or others trying to control a dangerous situation. “What if (professors) don’t see who is the shooter, and five people spring out and they still don’t know who to shoot?”

Professor Peter De Mars, an Aerospace and Mechanical Engineer adjunct professor, was the only faculty to speak at the meeting. He said he’d rather see more done to educate teachers and students to respond without the use of weapons should the unthinkable occur.

“If I asked my class if they felt safer if I carried a gun, they’d say no,” he said with a laugh. “The idea that a professor could be in the spot where they could protect students in 12 million square feet (the UA campus) is an anomaly.”

De Mars said he’d feel safer with keys to lock his classroom door than a gun.

Several of the speakers pointed out that Arizona statute exempts adults who leave weapons out of sight in locked vehicles on school grounds other than universities from prosecution for weapons misconduct.

“The people that are out there without the (Carry Concealed Weapons Permit), are the problem,” said Tim Popp, firearms instructor and owner of Double Tap Firearms, a Tucson safety and firearms instruction company.

Double-Tap co-owner Shawn Pop said that those who want to kill mass amounts of people pick public places where they know people are unarmed. “Education is the key to everything,” he said. “The CCW permit is the way to get educated.”

“The whole purpose of having a CCW is that people don’t know that you have a gun.” said Katie Pavlich, a UA journalism senior and one of five College Republicans in attendance. “The people who have the CCW have the training, the knowledge, there’s a reason why they went through the class, paid the fee, and got their fingerprints taken.”

James Allen, a UA sophomore said that giving professors guns would make them primary target for someone on a rampage or someone trying to get a weapon.

“If the guy knows that, then yeah, teacher’s going down first,” he said. “I don’t like supporting things that limit constitutional amendments, but I just can’t shake that guns don’t belong on campus.”

Allen is also ASUA safety director but did not speak on behalf of the student government Tuesday.

“I find ASUA’s resolution to be inappropriate,” Robert Rosinksi told the Senate. “You represent the student body and obviously extreme division here.”

Rosinski is founder of Students for the Second Amendment, an non-recognized club on the UA campus. “You shouldn’t go through with it. When you have hard facts that something’s dangerous, then you can do it,” he said.

After the forum, MacKenzie said he didn’t think ASUA adequately reflected the student population’s opinion of guns on campus. He said he believed that if people understood the training required for a concealed weapons permit, they’d be more likely to support the legislation.

“We have a lot to talk about tomorrow,” said Senator Hillary Davidson.

The senators will meet Wednesday in the Ventana Room of the SUMC at 5 to discuss and vote on whether or not to pass their previously released statement.

“They’ll probably talk about what they thought but nothing official will be decided until tomorrow, because of Arizona open meeting laws.” said Executive Vice President Emily Fritze, who presides ex-officio over the senate.

Fritze encouraged students to come speak during tomorrow’s Senate meeting call to the audience.

The Senate of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona hosted the hour-and-a-half long call to the audience after heated objections from students during last week’s senate meeting, at which ASUA proposed a statement against Arizona Senate Bill 1011, which would expressly allow university faculty with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campus. The resolution also requests an exception to the current policy allowing for concealed-carry permit owners to keep guns in cars parked on campus lots, overturning a previous resolution passed last September.

ASUA’s proposed resolution echoed opposition by University of Arizona President Robert Shelton, the University of Arizona Police Department, and the Arizona Board of Regents that guns simply do not belong on campus.

The remarks were limited to three minutes a person, and the speakers raised several questions including: the likelihood of increasing firearms related accidents, the need for professors to intervene in mass-shooting scenarios, a lack of a campus attack response plan, the state and federal constitutions, and ASUA’s role in speaking on behalf of students.

Most who supported the legislation, including Walden, cited the mass murders at Virginia Tech and Columbine as examples of where students and teachers were defenseless against depraved assailants.

In 2002, a University of Arizona medical student shot and killed 3 professors before committing suicide. Speakers at Tuesday’s discussion forum disagreed on whether or not he had a concealed weapons permit.

“Teachers sign contracts that they are first and foremost responsible to protect students. That’s why we have fire drills, tornado drills, and bomb drills,” said Erin Goheen, a UA student.

Sarah Button, a UA alum and Tucson middle school teacher said that it’s more important to improve weapons permit background checks to include mental health screenings before giving professors rights to carry guns where students cannot.

Button said professors with guns are more likely to confuse police or others trying to control a dangerous situation. “What if (professors) don’t see who is the shooter, and five people spring out and they still don’t know who to shoot?”

“If I asked my class if they felt safer if I carried a gun, they’d say no,” he said with a laugh. “The idea that a professor could be in the spot where they could protect students in 12 million square feet (the UA campus) is an anomaly.”

Double-Tap co-owner Shawn Pop said that those who want to kill mass amounts of people pick public places where they know people are unarmed. “Education is the key to everything,” he said. “The CCW permit is the way to get educated.”

James Allen, a UA sophomore said that giving professors guns would make them primary target for someone on a rampage or someone trying to get a weapon.

Allen is also ASUA safety director but did not speak on behalf of the student government Tuesday.

“I find ASUA’s resolution to be inappropriate,” Robert Rosinksi told the Senate. “You represent the student body and obviously extreme division here.”

“We have a lot to talk about tomorrow,” said Senator Hillary Davidson.

The senators will meet Wednesday in the Ventana Room of the SUMC at 5 to discuss and vote on whether or not to pass their previously released statement.

Fritze encouraged students to come speak during tomorrow’s Senate meeting call to the audience.

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