CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina’s recently proposed House Bill 937 could introduce legally securing firearms on campuses if stored in lock boxes in a person’s vehicle.
UNC Department of Public Safety spokesperson, Randy Young says campuses statewide have voiced their opposition to this bill.
“This is certainly something that our Chief just felt compelled to address in a show of solidarity with other campus police law enforcement agencies which have stepped forward and stated that they feel that this is a bad move for the educational community in the state of North Carolina,” Young says. “
The beginning part of the text of the bill states that it is “an act to increase penalties for certain crimes in which a firearm is used (or) displayed.” The portion of utmost concern for public safety departments at colleges and universities statewide says “a person who has a valid concealed handgun permit may…have a concealed handgun in a locked compartment in a vehicle on the premises of a community college, public college, or public university, and carry a handgun into an assembly where an admission fee is charged.”
Young says there are multiple downsides to allowing firearms in civilian hands on campus—legal or otherwise.
“Number one: people with firearms on campus are not trained in them the same way law enforcement officials are,” Young says. “Secondly, it makes it very difficult for law enforcement officers to respond because it’s much more difficult to tell who the perpetrator is versus who is taking it into their own hands to respond; and thirdly, any educational institution—high school, the University—is an area where people are educating themselves and availing themselves of opportunities to mature, to evolve, and to grow and learn. The introduction of live firearms into that situation is just inherently problematic.”
The bill is sponsored by 27 Republicans and one Democrat, Representative George Graham from District 12, and is currently being heard by the house.
Chief Jeff B. McCracken, Directoy of Public Safety at UNC issued the following statement April 29:
“While intended to promote safety, this legislation allowing additional guns on public campuses actually would make colleges and universities less safe. Even allowing weapons to be kept only in locked vehicles is not secure. The thousands of vehicles parked at UNC-Chapel Hill are among the targets for break ins, and I’m concerned this legislation would increase that frequency. As a result, criminals would have access to more guns.”