Lawmaker brings hot button campus carry debate to Arizona

Arizona is now joining in on the the hot button debate of whether or not allowing guns on college campuses could prevent sexual assault or acts of violence.

State Representative Sonny Borrelli has introduced House Bill 2072 which states that a person who is “authorized to carry a concealed firearm” is allowed to do so on the campus or property of any public university, college, or community college.

“My proposed legislation marks the beginning of a dialogue I plan to lead about gun safety on campuses," Borrelli said in an interview with The Arizona Republic, “...You should go to school and not have to worry about somebody coming in, some nut, wanting to have a shooting on campus.’’

A similar bill reached the desk of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in 2011, but was vetoed.

The current state law prohibits guns and other weapons on campuses with exceptions for storing a firearm in a locked vehicle and certain special permissions for academic or other university business.

“It doesn’t surprise me that it’s been reintroduced, because I think with the climate being what it is… I think eventually one of these bills will pass,” said Chief of Police John Edmundson at Arizona Western College in an interview with KYMA News in Yuma.

The bill is already receiving dissent from state Senator Steve Farley who told Phoenix New Times, “This law doesn’t make anyone safe. It just makes the NRA feel better.”

“Talk to any university police officer. They do not want to have a so-called ‘hero’ coming out with a gun and taking charge [because] they’re not properly trained. And it makes it harder for the police to tell who the good guy is," Farley added.

Farley cites a shooting incident that occurred in October 2015 on Northern Arizona University’s Flagstaff campus where freshman Steven Jones opened fire following an altercation in a parking lot, leaving one dead and three wounded.

“Imagine if all of those kids in the frat that night were armed and took out their guns and started shooting. Do you think the number of injured would have gone down?” Farley told New Times.

Local gun-rights advocate, Alan Korwin, told New Times that Farley’s argument is a “blood in the streets” myth, the belief that if everyone has a concealed weapon then everyone will kill each other.

“Even though the theory has been proven false in all 50 states, it’s still used regularly...Why do your rights evaporate when you walk across an invisible magic line at the edge of a school?” Korwin said.

Jasmine Lester, leader of the student organization Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault at Arizona State University, told New Times that allowing guns on campus will make it more dangerous for women.

She goes on to cite a National Coalition Against Domestic Violence study that says "Guns increase the risk of homicide by 500 percent for women in domestic violence situations.”

However, the study later says, “A victim’s access to a gun could plausibly reduce her risk of being killed, at least if she does not live with the abuser.”

In an op-ed written for MSNBC in March 2015, rape survivor Amanda Collins stands on the side of allowing guns on college campuses, “Had I been carrying my firearm, I would have been able to stop the attack...All I wanted was a chance to effectively defend myself.”

GovernorDoug Ducey has promised in a pledge to the people of Arizona to "defend the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms against any infringement."

With recent state legislation and court rulings, eight states now have provisions that allow concealed weapons on college campuses. These states are Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

Nineteen states still carry a complete ban.

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