By Corinne Murdock |
The House will soon vote on a bill to allow college faculty and students to carry and possess firearms on campus property. The bill, HB2447, would only require that faculty and students submit notification to their administration that they are armed and possess a concealed carry permit. In the state of Arizona, individuals must be 21 or older to receive a valid concealed carry permit, or 19 and older for active military and veterans. The bill would extend to all higher education campuses — community colleges as well as four-year colleges and universities — and require them to adopt guidelines for firearm usage during an active shooter situation.
The House Rules Committee passed the bill on Monday. The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill last month along party lines, 6-4.
While House Judiciary Committee Republicans viewed the bill as a further defense of Second Amendment rights and increased, committee Democrats conveyed concern that allowing more guns on campuses would decrease safety. The bill sponsor, State Representative Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott Valley), cited how Texas passed a bill ensuring the same rights in 2016, SB11. Nguyen serves as the Arizona Rifle and Pistol Association president currently and is a certified CCW instructor, firearms safety instructor, rifle coach, and previously a state director for a junior rifle team overseeing competitors aged 12 to 20.
Arizona State University (ASU) Police Chief Michael Thompson insisted that college students lack the maturity to carry a firearm. Thompson said that students should leave it up to the professionals on campus: law enforcement and security.
“The notion that a CCW training is going to prevent some kind of mass shooting on campus is a fantasy,” said Thompson. “They are still in a very developmental stage in their lives, and they tend to not think through consequences and have issues with their actions at many occasions. It’s increasing and adding a risk to a campus that’s not necessary.”
Chairman Walt Blackman (R-Snowflake) explained that while in the military he oversaw platoons of hundreds of young men in the very age bracket that Thompson criticized: 18 to 23 years old. Blackman said that, based on his experience, he disagreed with Thompson’s assessment that college students
Thompson rebutted that the 18 to 23 years old in the military are soldiers “with training and supervision,” whereas those in college would be “intoxicated” and “in their dorm room, showing off rifles and handling pistols.”
Nguyen’s subsequent line of questioning prompted a heated exchange between the legislator and Thompson.
Nguyen responded that Thompson’s characterization of ASU’s climate made the case for necessitating concealed carry. He added that young adults may vote and even be drafted to serve in the military at 18, and cited his own daughter as an example, who finished six weeks of boot camp before turning 18 and received a firearm as part of her assignment.
“You kind of scare me when you start talking about kids drinking and doing drugs and being irresponsible. You just made a case for me to not send my kids to ASU,” said Nguyen. “Or you’re making the case for me that if I send my 21-year-old daughter to ASU, she should be armed to protect herself from all the drugs and the drug users on campus.”
Thompson said that his issue wasn’t with concealed carry generally, but with the ability for any states’ concealed carry permit to be permissible for use on college campuses. Nguyen questioned Thompson why concealed carry permits existed at all if those permits were questionable, or why Arizona allows reciprocity.
Minority Whip Domingo DeGrazia (D-Tucson) expressed concern that concealed carry permits may be obtained through an online course and a 15-minute interview with an instructor.