INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A bill introduced this session at the statehouse would allow students with permits to carry guns on state-supported college campuses.
The legislation was written after students approached lawmakers wanting to carry for their own protection.
Senate Bill 97 was introduced by Republican Sen. Jim Banks.
It prohibits a state agency, including a state-supported university, from regulating the possession of guns.
“It’s not just a liberty, but it’s for our safety, and it’s personal for a lot of us,” said IU sophomore Crayle Vanest. She’s the president of IU’s chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.
“We want to enjoy the same rights on campus, that we have anywhere else we go, at the grocery store, at the mall, on our commute, at night when we're walking to the bus stop,” she said.
There are similar student groups at Purdue, IUPUI and Ball State, among others, all hoping someday students with permits will be allowed to carry. A national group on Facebook has thousands of members.
“It’s not the university's place to say you can have the Bill of Rights or an education. And it’s not a matter of saying, 'I’ll go to a different school,' because almost all schools in the nation have policies like this,” Vanest said.
Guns are prohibited on all Indiana University campuses, with the exception of law enforcement.
There are similar policies at Purdue, Ball State and other public universities across the state.
IU spokesperson Mark Land said the school is against the bill.
“All we know is that we’re concerned with the overall safety of our students, employees and our guests on campus,” he said. “Introducing additional element of firearms on campus just isn’t something that is conducive to a safe learning environment.”
Purdue University Police Department Chief John Cox said it would add further danger into the volatile college atmosphere.
“I think introducing firearms into a situation where you have young people, where there’s alcohol or other substance abuse going on, and who may make poor choices due to being under the influence, I think you’re going to make the situation worse,” he said.
Vanest disputed that, saying: “We're responsible, we encourage responsibility … . If somebody's going to meet you with deadly force, some people want to be prepared for that. I want to be prepared for that.”
The bill was sent to the rules committee.
There are only a few states that allow concealed carry on public college campuses. More than 20 states have banned concealed carry on campuses.
In Indiana, the decision to ban firearms is made by each college.
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