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Guns a possibility for UA teachers

Arizona state political leaders are considering allowing teachers to carry weapons on campus. Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, is the primary sponsor for a bill that would allow professors with concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campus.


If the bill passes, any faculty member with a valid concealed weapons permit will be able to carry a concealed weapon on the property of any community college or university within the jurisdiction of the Arizona Board of Regents. 

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Some, like Rep. Frank Pratt, opposes the idea of teachers bringing guns to campus.


""I don't like the possibility of any weapons being accidentally discharged in a large crowd of people,"" Pratt said. ""I can see that as very problematic.""


Pratt said that allowing other people to carry weapons would create confusion for the security officers and police officers.


""I would have to examine (the bill) more closely,"" he said. ""The ultimate objective is the safety of the students and personnel.""


Others believe that people with certified permits should be allowed to carry their weapons anywhere.


""I think that if someone is certified by the state standards, they should not be limited to where they can carry a firearm,"" said Maj. Thomas O'Sullivan of the UA Reserve Officers' Training Corps.


O'Sullivan doesn't believe that the presence of additional weapons on campus would lead to confusion for security officers. Rather, he said part of the training required to obtain a concealed weapons permit is learning when to use a gun and when to put it away.


""When to pull (a gun) out and what to do when police officers arrive is part of the training,"" he said. ""As long as a professor was trained and proficient and acting in accordance with the law, they should be allowed to carry a gun.""


UAPD doesn't share O'Sullivan's opinion.


""Our stance is that we follow the law,"" said UAPD Sgt. Juan Alvarez. ""But anytime you have more people who are armed, it makes our job more difficult.""


Alvarez argues that making the distinction between the good guy and the bad guy would become increasingly more difficult if professors were allowed to carry a weapon.


""We could only assume that they're here to harm someone on campus,"" Alvarez said.


Some UA professors are not keen on carrying weapons either.


Michael Polakowski, a former law enforcement officer and associate professor in the School of Government and Public Policy, does not support banning guns altogether, but believes carrying guns on campus is unnecessary.


""I generally think that arming citizens is never a good idea,"" Polakowski said. ""I think there are certain settings where it makes no sense to allow carrying a gun.""


Polakowski says bars, restaurants, courtrooms and academic settings are among some of the places that guns should not be allowed.


William Van Watson, a UA Italian professor, thinks guns should never have been included in the U.S. Constitution.


""I think we're a hideously violent society,"" Watson said. 


Sen. Steve Pierce, R-District 1, takes a moderate approach to the debate and says that although he is in favor of lessening restrictions on guns, some lawmakers have taken things to far.


""I favor looser gun laws but sometimes down here, people get a little carried away,"" Pierce said.


Pierce believes lawmakers have more pressing issues to worry about and lobbying for less stringent gun laws is not among them.


""We need to be concentrating on balancing the budget, in my opinion,"" Pierce said. 


UA students are just as varied in their opinions when it comes to allowing guns at school. Alexis Scott, a sophomore majoring in business, says the law is excessive.


""I think it is just unnecessary because there are plenty of police on campus,"" Scott said.


Scott doesn't believe that having more guns on campus will make the school a safer place.


""If someone has a mission to shoot someone, I think they're going to do it.""


Other students say they would feel safer if their professors were allowed to bring guns to school.


""I would be perfectly all for it,"" said Kaylena Gehrke, a sophomore majoring in animal science. ""I'd feel better in my classroom because there are some interesting people running around here.""


Chris McHale, a freshman majoring in psychology, also supports professors having guns on campus.


""My teacher would be able to properly react if there is a situation,"" he said.


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