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States Pass Laws Allowing Concealed Weapons on College Campuses

States Pass Laws Allowing Concealed Weapons on College Campuses
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By    |   Monday, 28 December 2015 11:40 AM

As debate rages over gun control in Washington, eight states have already passed laws allowing concealed weapons for students and faculty on college campuses — and several others could follow suit in 2016.

Texas is the latest state to pass legislation permitting guns on campus, starting next August.

Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin already have either laws or court rulings allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on some campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Florida are considering similar plans, the issue is pending in Ohio, The Washington Times reports and several other states are expected to consider similar legislation in 2016.

The developments illustrate how gun control and pro-Second Amendment supporters are moving their fight away from Capitol Hill, where action on firearms is stalled, to the states, where lawmakers are not just debating, but writing new policies, the Times reports.

"Texas was a big victory for us this year," Michael Newburn, a spokesman for the group Students for Concealed Carry, tells the Times.

The mass shooting in October at a community college drew increased attention to the issue, but Larry Arnold, director of the Texas Concealed Handgun Association, tells the Times momentum really began after the December 2012 school-shooting massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.

"After that, we really started to see the K-12 schools looking at it," Arnold tells the Times. "We have at least 70 school districts that have teacher carry one way or the other."

But since universities can approve exceptions and "care-outs," the issue of concealed carry laws is complicated on campuses.

"A broad coalition of law enforcement officers, faculty, parents and students agree that Texas universities should not allow guns on their campuses, in dorm rooms and especially in classrooms," Manny Garcia, deputy executive director of the Texas Democratic Party, tells the Times.

"Put simply: Campus carry does not make our schools any safer — it creates more problems than solutions."

Arnold argues, however, the Aug. 1, 2016, effective date of the Texas law comes on the 50th anniversary of when Charles Whitman scaled a clock tower at the University of Texas and killed more than a dozen people in one of the country's most infamous mass shooting incidents.

Armed civilians on the ground prevented what could have been an even worse outcome, he says.

"It's a big muddle right now — everybody's hyperventilating," Arnold tells the newspaper.

Four national groups representing college educators and trustees have declared they'll fight the growing push in state legislatures.

"Colleges and universities closely control firearms and prohibit concealed guns on their campuses because they regard the presence of weapons as incompatible with their educational missions," said the statement, signed by the American Association of University Professors, the American Federation of Teachers, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

But Students for Concealed Carry, a group that is pushing for campus carry laws in several states, claims the laws don't have as much of an impact as critics claim.

Few students can qualify to carry weapons because they aren't 21, and those who do have obtained licenses and undergone background checks, spokesman Zachary Zalneraitis points out.

"The people in charge, the administrators and professors, are always resistant to it," he said. "But after it gets passed, it just becomes a non-issue."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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As debate rages over gun control in Washington, eight states have already passed laws allowing concealed weapons for students and faculty on college campuses - and several others could follow suit in 2016.
States, Pass, Laws, Concealed Weapon, College, Campuses
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2015-40-28
Monday, 28 December 2015 11:40 AM
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