Faculty with firearms
Faculty carrying firearms, it is not such a far-fetched idea anymore.
The Arkansas Legislature is in the process of considering a bill that would allow bill proposed would allow faculty of public colleges and universities the ability to carry guns on campus in Arkansas. Sponsor Republican Rep. Charlie Collins of Fayetteville said his reason for backing the bill is to deter mass school shootings.
“When somebody plans to create an event where he can be a star on TV news, get the revenge he’s after, it’s virtually impossible for all law enforcement to be at the right place at the right time,” Collins said. He said the solution to these tragic events would be concealed carry.
The amended House Bill 1077 would remove the option for public colleges and universities to opt-out of allowing university employees to carry guns on campus.
Collins proposed a similar measure back in 2013, which allowed campuses to decide if they would let employees carry firearms on campus. After that bill passed, all 33 universities in Arkansas made the decision to opt-out and not allow faculty to open-carry.
The newly amended bill would require faculty wanting to carry a firearm to attend active shooter training. It also would not allow guns at daycares.
The bill recently stalled in the House Committee after much opposition from students.
On the University of Arkansas at Little Rock campus, many faculty members are keeping opinions to themselves but foresee a serious issue at hand if the bill is passed.
UALR Police Chief Regina Wade-Carter said there are many pros and cons to arming employees with guns.
She said she is a firm believer in the second Amendment right, which is to “bear Arms,” but said there is a con. Although faculty members would be required to attend the active shooter training, Carter said, “It’s not the extensive training that a full-time law enforcement officer would have. I would feel more comfortable if only law enforcement officials were to carry a gun on campus, not a civilian.”
Carter worries how faculty would react to an active shooter situation, given the fact that they’re not “extensively trained” as police officers are trained. Another concern the chief has is safety.
According to a report by New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, from 2005 to 2010 about 3,800 people in the United States died from unintentional shootings. More than a third of the victims were under 25 years of age.
Carter said a lot of people do not consider the accidental discharge that could happen from someone not familiar with carrying a firearm. “Can you imagine a weapon being in a classroom and it falls and a round is already in the chamber, it goes off. It could kill someone instantly, or even get yourself killed,” she said.
The chief said as far as faculty taking control of a situation such as a mass shooting, “If you’re not trained to handle those type of situations, it could further escalate.”
Tim Brown is a professor at the UALR Department of Criminal Justice and said he can’t really see any pros of faculty carrying guns on campus. Brown said there is a lot of research that shows the availability of guns, increases the probability of gun-related accidents. “The research out there doesn’t really point to many pros, it points to more cons where accidents are more likely to happen,” he said.
“Any time you increase a number of a certain item, whether it’s a gun or a car, there is more increase for accidents,” he said. Brown said the research also points out that not only death-by-accident goes up where there is an increase in amount of guns, but also the increase in amounts of suicide is also something to consider. He also said the research findings are non-significant for the reason behind the bill which is ultimately to deter mass school shootings.
The bill is now being sent to the Senate for review.