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Regents: No guns policy on campus

No guns on college campuses – period.

That was the message the Arizona Board of Regents symbolically sent to the state Legislature on Friday when adopting a resolution reaffirming the board’s longstanding policy of having the state’s three universities be gun-free.

Christine Thompson, the board’s associate executive director for governmental affairs, presented a brief update to the board about legislation moving though the state House and Senate, and it quickly became obvious that concern over SB 1214, which modifies state law prohibiting weapon possession on school grounds, outweighed discussion on possible budget cuts or textbook prices.

The original bill has been amended to remove a provision allowing guns on K-12 school grounds “so it would only apply to concealed-carry weapons owners on university grounds or community colleges,” Thompson said.

“I simply can’t believe we would want to move this way where we thought guns on campus would (constitute a) hospitable and nurturing environment,” said Regent Fred DuVal.

Regent Robert Bulla proposed the resolution affirming the board’s gun-free policy, saying that surveys of students have shown that about 5 percent of them would bring guns to campus under a concealed-carry law.

“We’ve had this discussion a number of times, we’ve listened to our security people talk about these issues and here at ASU alone (that 5 percent) would be (thousands of) loaded guns on campus,” Bulla said. “This is so scary.”

In addition to the gun bill, Thompson said that the textbook bill – HB 2230 – has been rewritten so students, who originally proposed it and got it sponsored, are no longer as supportive. Thompson also mentioned the Legislature’s fix for this year’s nearly $1 billion shortfall includes a $25 million hold on spending across the state university system.

In spite of that news, the regents reserved their concern and discussion to the possibility of guns on campus.

“Being a country boy, I’m a big supporter of the Second Amendment,” said President Fred Boice. “But there’s a time and a place for everything, and the place for guns is not on campus.”

Regent Ernest Calderón said that he was proud to be a member of the National Rifle Association, but there was no way to know if everyone carrying a gun was a responsible gun owner.

“I believe guns are a liability . . . in a learning environment,” he said. “We have a lot to do to manage a lot of moving parts and when we inject in a weapon . . . I don’t know how (universities) can accept the responsibility of the handling, mishandling or worse, the accidental handling of a weapon.”

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