CHAPEL HILL – On Monday, the police chiefs from each of UNC’s 17 campuses co-signed a joint statement opposing NC House Bill 937, which would allow individuals with concealed-carry permits to bring guns onto campus.
UNC-Chapel Hill Police Chief Jeff McCracken was among the signees.
Passed by the State House last month, the bill would allow concealed-carry permit holders to carry their guns on college and university campuses. Private colleges and universities would retain the right to prohibit guns on their campus, but public institutions (like UNC) would have to allow them.
UNC system president Tom Ross has already spoken out against the bill—sparking criticism in response from gun-rights advocates. Now, campus law enforcement officials are following Ross in opposition.
The joint statement reads in part: “We believe passage of this bill would increase the risk to the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors…The potential risk to those on campus far outweighs the convenience to concealed-carry permit holders.”
House Bill 937 passed the State House last month by a 76-38 vote along party lines. It’s currently awaiting passage by the State Senate.
The full statement is below.
Opinion Statement – House Bill 937
Chief Gunther Doerr, Appalachian State University Police
Acting Chief Jason Sugg, East Carolina University Police
Interim Chief John Manley, Elizabeth City State University Police
Chief Robert Hassell, Fayetteville State University Police
Chief Glenn Newell, North Carolina A&T State University Police
Chief Tim Bellamy, North Carolina Central University Police
Chief Jack Moorman, North Carolina State University Police
Chief Eric Boyce, University of North Carolina at Asheville Police
Chief Jeff McCracken, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Police
Chief Jeff Baker, University of North Carolina at Charlotte Police
Chief Jamie Herring, University of North Carolina at Greensboro Police
Chief McDuffie Cummings, University of North Carolina at Pembroke Police
Chief David Donaldson, University of North Carolina at Wilmington Police
Chief Deb Cheesebro, University of North Carolina School of the Arts Police
Chief Earnest Hudson, Western Carolina University Police
Chief Pat Norris, Winston-Salem State University Police
Security Director Rick Hess, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
Chief Emily West, North Carolina Arboretum Police
Associate Vice President for Campus Safety and Emergency Operations Brent Herron, UNC General Administration
The police chiefs of the 17 UNC campuses oppose the provision of House Bill 937 that would allow handguns on our campuses. We believe passage of this bill would increase the risk to the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
Studies show that university campuses are consistently safer and experience significantly less crime than surrounding communities.
Some of our universities have middle schools and high schools on their campuses, and many of our universities host summer youth camps. This bill would allow concealed-weapon permit holders to bring their handguns onto these venues.
According to HB 937, private colleges and universities would have the authority to decide whether or not they allowed handguns on their campuses. This bill would have a disparate impact on public colleges and universities, as we would not have the same discretion and authority that private colleges do. Currently 45 states either ban guns on campuses or allow universities the discretion to choose whether or not to ban guns.
In the event of a campus emergency, it is possible that concealed-carry permit holders may feel empowered to retrieve their handguns, thereby complicating and potentially hindering law enforcement response on a crowded campus.
The potential risk to those on campus far outweighs the convenience to concealed-carry permit holders. We encourage the General Assembly to remove the provision from HB 937 that would allow guns on university campuses.