|UT system stands against upcoming gun legislation |
|Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 12:01 pm |
|The University of Tennessee, including all of its campuses and institutes statewide, is taking a stand against a proposed bill currently before the state House Judiciary Committee. The proposal would allow more people to carry guns on campus, contributing to an unsafe environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors, UT contends. |
HB 2016 is scheduled to come before the House Judiciary Committee today. The bill would allow UT faculty and staff with handgun carry permits to bring their guns to campus. Current law prohibits anyone, even handgun carry permit holders, other than law enforcement to bring weapons to campus.
The University of Tennessee joins campus and local police forces and the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police in opposition to this proposal. Faculty and student government organizations on each of UT’s campuses also have passed resolutions opposing the bill.
“The University of Tennessee has repeatedly stated its opposition to allowing anyone other than law enforcement officers to carry guns while on campus,” UT President Joe DiPietro said.
“The safety of all students, faculty and staff is in the hands of the administrations on each campus. This responsibility is taken seriously, and campuses work with law enforcement to take measures to create the safest environments possible. Campuses will not become safer with more gun carriers,” he said.
Campus police officers, campus officials, students and faculty members plan to attend Tuesday’s committee meeting.
“We have broad-based support from our Faculty Senate and Student Government Association reflecting our belief that changing the existing gun carry laws on campus is not appropriate, nor does it reflect our value for human life and concern for campus safety,” said Dr. Tom Rakes, UT Martin chancellor. “As one of the safest campus locations in Tennessee, we have to wonder why the current law – and what we are now doing – needs to be changed?”
David Moore, Martin police chief, sees no benefit in allowing more people to carry guns on a college campus. “From a law enforcement standpoint of a chief of police whose agency shares responsibility for the safety of a university campus, I have a hard time understanding why legislation is being sought to force university administrators to allow guns to be included in classroom settings,” he said. “From a practical standpoint, I prefer my officers responding to a threat call on campus to be free of the added concern of trying to determine tactically who should possess guns and who should not.”
Beverly Meadows, of Ripley, whose daughter is a UT Martin student, sees a college campus as no place for guns. “I don’t think handguns should be on campus, period,” she said. “I’m afraid of the gun, ultimately, ending up in the wrong hands.”
The University of Tennessee is the state’s comprehensive land-grant institution with campuses in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin; the Health Science Center based in Memphis; the statewide Institutes of Agriculture and Public Service, and the Space Institute in Tullahoma, which is managed by UT Knoxville.