Editorial: Campus concealed carry

Editorial: ed·i·to·ri·al
[ed-i-tawr-ee-uhl, -tohr-] noun:
An article that represents the official viewpoint of a newspaper on a topic of public interest.

We at The Arka Tech are divided on our stance about House Bill 1249 that would allow people over the age of 25 to carry concealed weapons on campus with training. We are not, however, divided on the fact that we believe such decisions should be left up to each college—not the state government.

The Arkansas House of Representatives introduced a similar bill in 2013. Act 226, or HB 1243, allows only faculty and staff with concealed carry licenses to carry their concealed weapons on public campuses, with the provision that the colleges could opt out of allowing their faculty and staff to do so.

Structuring the bill in this way allowed public universities to make their own decisions about the governmental bill and left some semblance of local control.

Since 2013, not a single college has opted to allow faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons. However, the Legislature is looking to force colleges to allow concealed carry on campus. HB 1249 would not only allow faculty and staff to carry concealed weapons, it would allow anyone over the age of 25 to carry a concealed weapon, with proper training, on campus.

Since no colleges seem willing to partake in the opportunities that the Legislature has put forth, why should they feel the need to give the colleges forced “opportunities?”

We believe this is about control. The state of Arkansas is suddenly wanting to exert even more control over the universities in Arkansas, for no apparent reason other than that they can.

Taking the control away from the college level and giving it to the state level would mean that the state would have a generic all encompassing view of every college in Arkansas. All colleges are not equal.

Colleges aren’t equal in the number of students, staff and faculty. They aren’t equal in the economic status, gender, age or ethnicity of students, faculty and staff. Why does that matter, because a person who lives in the city, views and understand guns completely different than a person who grew up in the country; both would be allowed to carry. A person who is of economic means to pay for more instruction about a gun and how to properly handle and use the gun will view it differently than a person who cannot afford the extra education; both would be allowed to carry.

Having the control of this decision at the college level allows the college to assess their population accordingly and make a decision that’s best for the campus and its surrounding community. By allowing the state to have this control they are putting every college and its community into a generic mold, and that’s when problems occur.
We are not the only ones who oppose this shift.

In an article by The Courier, Dr. Robin Bowen, President of Arkansas Tech, is quoted as saying “Each May since the signing of Act 226 of the 89th Arkansas General Assembly in 2013, the Arkansas Tech University Board of Trustees has elected to prohibit the carrying of a concealed handgun by staff members in the buildings or on grounds owned or leased by Arkansas Tech University. As such, we advocate local control. Arkansas Tech University will continue to monitor the discussion surrounding House Bill 1249 and take the proper steps to ensure we are always in compliance with the law and providing a safe learning environment for our university community.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Madame President.

We at The Arka Tech urge each of you to call Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson, at 501-682-2345 to urge him to oppose this bill.

Encourage him to oppose it because this is not about gun laws. This is not about guns at all. This is about control, and we all know that the state government doesn’t need any extra control, least of all over places of higher education.