Recent attacks revive gun debate

With the recent on-campus attacks still fresh on many students’ minds, the issue of whether or not to allow the carrying of concealed weapons on campus is beginning to resurface in the campus safety conversation. Currently, state law prohibits the carrying of firearms on or around college campuses, but the recent increase in crime on and around the Tech and Ga. State campuses has prompted several state lawmakers to suggest overturning the ban on concealed weapons on college campuses.

In the coming weeks, the campus community will have to consider a number of questions related to guns on campus: Is it fair to deny students the right to protect themselves? Is allowing guns on campus safe?

The debate is all too familiar for those students who were around during the ‘09-’10 school year, which saw a similar push to allow concealed weapons on campus, including a bill introduced in Ga. State Legislature.

That time around, UHR passed a resolution opposing the measure. Institute President G.P. “Bud” Peterson was also a vocal opponent, and he says he will continue to support the ban of concealed weapons on campus.

“The vast majority of the university presidents in the University System of Georgia and the vast majority of the campus police chiefs are unified in their opposition to this,” Peterson said. “These are people who understand college campuses, safety, young people—the whole environment.”

The conceal-carry issue on campus promises to continue to be controversial and divisive. Many students and administrators alike are worried that students aren’t responsible enough to be trusted with easy access to guns.

“I do not believe that guns, alcohol and college students are a good mix,” Peterson said.

Andres Celedon, Chair of the GT College Republicans, believes that this is an unfair stigma surrounding gun owners.

“I have confidence in licensed gun owners,” Celedon said. “They’re some of the most mature people I know.”

College Republicans and GT Students for Concealed Carry on Campus are actively lobbying to change legislation. They hope that by spreading awareness about the issue and ensuring that responsible people are allowed to carry weapons on campus, they can help increase safety at Tech.

Opponents, though, insist that even a responsible gun owner is unlikely to be able to use a firearm for self defense.

“If you or I had a weapon, and somebody came up with us to a gun, what are the chances that we could actually use that weapon to defend ourselves?” Peterson said.

Teresa Crocker, Chief of Police for GTPD, says there is a big difference between someone trained to own guns responsibly and someone trained to stop crimes. “Every bullet that comes out of that gun is going somewhere, so if you don’t hit your target, what are you going to hit?” Crocker said.

John Koch, President of the College Democrats, urged students to keep their faith in GTPD.

“These are people who have sworn an oath to protect us,” Koch said. “They’re armed for a reason.”

GT Students for Concealed Carry on Campus plans to hold a town hall to discuss the issue on Feb. 18, and if a bill to overturn the ban on concealed weapons is introduced in the state legislature, more discussions among the community are likely to follow.

Additional reporting by Sam Somani, Staff Writer.