Concealed-carry on campus: University weapons policies spark debate among student political bodies

Politically active students weigh in on Second Amendment rights on campus

Recent events at ASU — including a live debate over guns on college campuses, an on-campus arrest following a jewelry heist and the celebration of National Constitution Day — all illustrate a civil issue on many university campuses: Second Amendment rights.

Although the Arizona Board of Regents has already motioned against concealed weapons on campuses, some student political groups are pushing for a future in which guns have a place in the university setting.

A live debate sponsored by the ASU Federalist Society pit two political bodies against one another last Thursday to discuss whether guns are necessary on university campuses.

During the debate, Crime Prevention Research Center President John Lott argued in support of guns on campuses by presenting data on the behavior of permit holders as well as shooting statistics from states that allow concealed-carry on campuses.

Arizona Representative Juan Mendez opposed the notion for guns on campus, and said it is only an assumption that guns can make campuses safer.

Chase Turrentine, president of the ASU Federalist Society, said he acknowledges that ABOR is against guns on campuses. However, he said he is in support of allowing concealed-carry weapons on ASU campuses for constitutional and safety reasons.

“I would conceal-carry on campus and ensure that we didn’t have a mass-shooting situation," he said. "I don’t think carrying a gun on campus in any way infringes on anybody’s rights.”

ASU College Republicans President Kevin Calabrese and ASU Students For Self Defense President Jacob Pritchett both share the same sentiment.

“The ASU Police Department does a great job of keeping us safe, but I feel that gun-savvy students with adequate training should be permitted to conceal-carry on campus for their own personal self-defense,” Calabrese said.

Calabrese said that while law-abiding citizens would obey ASU's current gun-free zone policy, criminals with malicious intentions would not.

“As long as the school has no way of physically preventing guns from entering the campus, then I don’t really see how their current rule (against concealed carry) is very practical," he said.

Pritchett said his group is trying to drive up support for concealed carry on campus because of what has historically happened regarding gun-free zones.

“If you look at the history of mass public shootings in the U.S., 99 percent of those took place in areas where people weren’t allowed to have weapons," Pritchett said. "That’s a pretty sad record for gun-free zones.” 

David Howman, founder and president of Youth for Johnson/Weld at ASU, also said he would be in support of guns on campus, referencing a recent situation in which the suspect of a jewelry heist was able to trespass into a student's room at Barrett, The Honors College on the Tempe campus.

Howman said that though the police arrived in time to arrest the suspect, it was a very close call.

"This idea of giving someone immediate protection for themselves, especially in light of recent events, seems like a good idea to me at least," Howman said.

Meanwhile, ASU Young Democrats President Austin Marshall provided a different perspective. He said he hopes ASU does not become a concealed-carry school.

"I think having more guns in an area like this just breeds more risk and potential for miscommunication and for things to go wrong," he said.

Marshall said having guns within a large university setting would only bolster more risk among a large student population.

“It’s the largest public university in the country and if more and more people are carrying guns on campus, it makes a lot of people uncomfortable," he said. "It puts a lot of people in positions they don’t want to be in. I think it could lead to unperceived situations that could escalate very quickly and breed an unfortunate outcome.”

Correction: Due to an error in reporting, the club Youth for Johnson/Weld at ASU was incorrectly referred to by another name. This article has been updated with the correct information. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @angelnikolas96 on Twitter.

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