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Student opinions vary about guns on campus

Rex Barber • Dec 4, 2012 at 10:30 PM

Varied opinions are held by students at East Tennessee State University regarding legislation that could allow guns to be kept in vehicles parked on campus.

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, speaking Monday at a luncheon for higher education officials and legislators at Northeast State Community College in Blountville, said he hoped to have a bill passed in the next legislative session that would allow handgun carry permit holders to keep their weapons locked in their cars.

Similar bills have not passed in recent years.

ETSU Director of Media Relations Joe Smith responded to an inquiry about the legislation via email Tuesday.

“We have not seen the proposed new legislation, so it is too early for us to respond,” he said. “We know this will be an issue that the Tennessee Board of Regents will continue to follow closely.”

Campus police chiefs and others in academia have opposed previous versions of this legislation.

TBR Communications Director Monica Greppin-Watts said the Regents oppose weapons on campus as a safety measure.

“TBR has historically not supported any bill that would open the door to allowing guns on our college campuses because of concern for the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors,” she said via email. “ We have not yet seen anything as it relates to any specific legislation, and we will wait to comment further until we have more information.”

Brandon Roy, a freshman majoring in exercise science at ETSU, said he was largely neutral on the legislation, though he did not think he would necessarily be against people holding guns in their cars on campus.

“I guess it would give students more of a sense of safety if they have one,” he said.

Jennifer Benson, an ETSU sophomore majoring in psychology, supported the measure.

“I’m for it because if people know there are guns around then they’re not going to want to pull their gun out, because they know other people are going to have their guns,” she said.

Dwanye Jordon, a graduate student at ETSU studying information technology, did not support guns in campus parking lots.

“As a student, I don’t think I’d be really OK with that,” he said.

Jordon said people have varied interactions with others on a daily basis on a university campus. Adding guns to the mix could add difficulties to any interaction and cause problems because of the ease with which people would have access to their weapons.

“It’s something simple for you to run to your car and get your gun for the slightest lack of reason,” Jordon said.

Northeast State Community College Director of Police John Edens said while he could not comment specifically on the law Ramsey was referencing because he has not seen it, he did think more guns on campus means the campus is less safe.

Speaking personally and for police chiefs of TBR schools, Edens said he opposed guns on campus, except for law enforcement officers.

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