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Bill could allow guns on UA campus

Posted at 10:58 PM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 04:59:04-05

Currently guns are not allowed anywhere at the University of Arizona campus, but a bill in the Arizona state legislature could change that.

HB 2072 was introduced last month by representative Sonny Borelli. 

The relevant part of the bill reads as follows:

"The chief administrative officer or chief administrative officer's designee or the governing board of a university, college or community college may not adopt or enforce any policy or rule that restricts or prohibits a faculty member or registered student from carrying or transporting a firearm on the property of the public university, college or community college if the faculty member or registered student possesses a valid permit issued pursuant to section 13-3112 and is registered with the institution's administration indicating that the faculty member or registered student is armed and possesses a valid permit that is issued pursuant to section 13-3112."

In short, the bill would allow students and faculty to carry concealed firearms anywhere on campus if they have a valid permit and register with the school.

Some could make the argument that allowing guns on college campuses could make them safer in active shooter situations. There are plenty of high-profile cases to reference including Virginia Tech in 2007 where 33 people were killed, or Northern Arizona University where one person was killed and three were injured last year.

A similar law was just passed in Texas. Starting on August 1st students will be able to carry concealed weapons at UT. 

The bill has been met with opposition in the University system in Arizona. The Board of Regents - which represents UA, NAU, and ASU - unanimously opposed the bill when it was introduced in January.

On campus, two students told Nine On Your Side off camera that they are in favor of the bill. Most others were not in favor.

"You can't trust people to be able to say 'I have a gun, I don't want to kill therefore I am a good guy with a gun," said Chetan Bafna, a UA student.

"While I understand the sentiment behind the bill, I have to say as a student I can't support it and would be more afraid for my safety on campus if I knew that was allowed," said Robert Owens, a UA student.

Local representatives in the state legislature also spoke to Nine On Your Side about the bill.

Former professor Macario Saldate represents the district in which the UA's main campus is contained. In a statement he said "I would not like to see guns on campus. As a former professor and administrator I perceive this to be a negative move for campus."

Representatives Bruce Wheeler's district is also in Tucson, he says the bill is not advisable and unsafe.

Wheeler says he expects the bill to pass the legislature, but after that it will be up to Governor Doug Ducey to decide if he will veto the bill or not.

Currently, HB 2072 is in the judicial committee waiting on a hearing.

A separate house bill is also advancing the state legislature. HB 2338 would keep schools from being able to ban gun owners from carrying concealed weapons in their vehicle on public roads going though campus.