Tempe’s Undergraduate Student Government has taken the first step toward officially opposing three bills in the state Legislature that would allow firearms on campus.
USG’s University Affairs Committee has introduced a measure to take a formal stance against the bills in the Legislature.
One bill, SB 1201, would allow faculty to carry concealed weapons on campus.
Two others, HB 2014 and HB 2479, would allow both students and faculty to carry weapons on campus. Under these bills, universities and community colleges could not prohibit anyone with a valid permit from having a concealed weapon on campus.
The USG committee introduced the measure to oppose the gun bills last week, and it will be presented to the student senate for final approval next Thursday, Feb. 10.
USG Vice President of Policy Michael Wong said the measure would allow the student government to present a united student voice to the Legislature.
“If [our bill] does pass, we are basically empowered to move forward, but we want to make sure we move forward with what students want,” Wong said.
Wong called the issue controversial and said he expects much debate among USG senators when the bill is brought to a vote.
A majority vote is required for the bill to pass.
The issue of guns on campus is so charged that journalism sophomore Mia Hanumic said she would leave ASU if her peers and professors could carry a concealed weapon.
“By bringing guns to school, you’re saying violence is OK,” Hanumic said. “We’re human beings. You shouldn’t have to win an argument through violence. We have the capacity to talk, to communicate, to think critically.”
Biological sciences junior Maya Hashem agreed, saying guns on campus would make her feel less safe, not more safe.
“A lot of people wouldn’t know the right time to use it,” she said. “I know some people that get really angry, really fast. Some people just don’t know the right time to joke and some can’t control their anger. Someone would get shot.”
The main argument in favor of allowing guns on campus is that someone trained with a firearm could stop a violent incident before it escalated to a mass shooting before the police could respond to the scene.
Chemistry senior Jimmy Li said he thinks that is a valid argument and would support guns on campus.
“It’s a good idea,” he said. “It would make people think twice about doing something on campus.”
Theater professor Lance Gharavi said it’s only a good idea if people are in favor of grade inflation.
“I would give a lot more A’s,” he said. “As a professor, you don’t want a disgruntled student with a Glock-9 in their bag. There can be high pressure, tense situations – for example, finals week – and bringing guns into tense situations just doesn’t seem like a good idea.”
American studies and English professor Darryl Hattenhauer agreed, saying any student with such intentions would simply seek out professors first.
“Anybody wanting to shoot up a university would go looking to shoot the professors first because they know they’ve got the guns,” he said.
Hattenhauer also said it would be unlikely to increase safety.
“It’s proven that people who don’t know how to use guns generally do more harm than good with them,” Hattenhauer said. “It’s more likely they would make the situation worse.”
Regardless, Li said he is opposed to the USG bill because it would falsely represent student opinions as united.
Because of the evident controversy, Wong said students are welcome and encouraged to attend the senate meeting next week and voice their opinions before the vote takes place.
“We feel it’s important that students have their say as to how they feel about the issue because this is one instance where a bill in the state Legislature directly affects life on campus,” Wong said. “We really encourage students to attend the senate meeting and make their voices heard.”
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