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Morning Sun
  • PSU, SGA oppose concealed carry

  • As student senators voted to oppose concealed carry on campus, one onlooker stood up, loudly called opponents of concealed carry “Un-American” then walked out of the Student Senate meeting.



    That was the only time the debate about concealed carry lost its decorum Wednesday night at the Pittsburg State Student Senate meeting.

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  • As student senators voted to oppose concealed carry on campus, one onlooker stood up, loudly called opponents of concealed carry “Un-American” then walked out of the Student Senate meeting.
    That was the only time the debate about concealed carry lost its decorum Wednesday night at the Pittsburg State Student Senate meeting.
    Joining their counterparts from the other regents institutions, Pittsburg State student government voted 22-16 to oppose concealed carry on campus. Pittsburg State officials have already announced opposition to allowing concealed carry on school grounds.
    PSU’s stance
    Officials at PSU say it’s not really their position they’re taking. Rather, they say that they support the Kansas Board of Regents’ position.
    “First, what we’re really advocating is the Board of Regents’ authority over the issue. The sense among the Board and our leaders is more weapons on campus do not make it a safer plae. We have a well-trained police force on campus that also believes additional weapons won’t make campus safer,” said Shawn Naccarato, Pittsburg State government and community affairs director.
    Furthermore, Naccarato said that the university believes its campus is already safe. Less than one percent of all crimes in 2011 occurred on college campuses, he said, and the violent crime rate on campus is less than 0.2 for every 1,000 crimes.
    “The university campus is one of the safest places in life. Crime stats on all college campuses show they’re safe. We’d argue that we need to continue the current policies for safety purposes,” Naccarato said.
    The issue of concealed carry arises nearly every Legislative session. The catalyst this year is the same as recent years — House Bill 2055, which would let Kansans carry concealed handguns in state and municipal buildings (including universities) unless such building has “adequate security measures” to prevent any weapons from entering the building.
    Notably, “adequate security measures” is further defined as having electronic equipment and personnel at every public entrance — a prohibitive cost for universities, several said.
    “We would not be able to afford that at every entrance,” Naccarato said.
    PSU SGA debate
    Wednesday’s bill in the Student Senate was not particularly anything new. In fact, the body voted 17-4 last year on a similarly worded bill, similarly opposing concealed carry on campus.
    The debate and bill comes days before Higher Education Day on the Hill in Topeka, set for Monday, where students and others will swarm the capital in force to represent their respective schools. All other student government organizations at Kansas regents institutions have passed a similarly worded bill.
    In advance of the debate Wednesday, a survey was conducted, asking students’ opinions on the matter.
    If anything, the survey only further muddied the waters regarding student opinion.
    Page 2 of 2 - Of the 918 responses to the survey (regarded on both sides as a strong turnout), there were 488 in favor of concealed carry (roughly 53 percent) and 405 against concealed carry (roughly 44 percent).
    But even those who put the survey together felt the vote was skewed. During debate, it was revealed that the Gorillas for Concealed Carry on Campus, a student organization with leadership consisting of several Student Senators, had set up a tent on the Oval and directed students to use their laptop to vote in the survey.
    SGA President Lara Ismert said that when elections are occurring, campaigning is not allowed at poll stations. For the same reason, she felt that the results of the survey were skewed.
    Edwin Stremel, a Student Senator and the Gorillas for Concealed Carry on Campus president, said earlier Wednesday that  his group was in favor of concealed carry, not because they want all students to have guns, but rather they feel that responsible, law-abiding individuals should have the choice whether to have concealed carry or not.
    At any rate, the debate on concealed carry at the Student Senate meeting started with comments from the public, and many comments were in favor of concealed carry and against the resolution.
    Later, two faculty members gave their perspective, saying that the presence of guns on campus could have an intimidating effect on recruitment of students and faculty alike, and that it would not make the campus any safer.
    Both sides, it seemed, had an arsenal of statistics and anecdotal evidence at their disposal about whether concealed carry would or would not help, whether it would or would not increase safety on campus.
    Supporters of the resolution said that Pittsburg State is not an unsafe campus, and that an eight-hour weapons course does not provide enough training to prevent the sort of attacks that concealed carry advocates believe would be prevented. These senators also said they would feel unsafe if they knew a classmate was carrying a weapon.
    Those against the resolution said that those who took the survey did it of their own accord, and that they merely reached their constituents. Furthermore, they said that concealed carry was a matter of taking responsibility for one’s own safety. They also said that the mere presence of concealed weapons could be a deterrent against potential shooters.
    After more than an hour of debate, the Student Senate voted upon the resolution, passing it (and opposing concealed carry) by a close 22-16 vote.
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