The Arizona Board of Regents declared its opposition to firearms on college campuses in a resolution passed on Tuesday.
The regents unanimously opposed Senate Bill 1474, which would require that public universities allow anyone age 21 or older with a concealed-carry permit to carry a gun on campus. Dennis DeConcini, the regent who offered the resolution, said it is the job of the Arizona University System to ensure the safety all students, staff, faculty and visitors on the three in-state university campuses.
“We are confident that firearms on campus, other than those carried by law enforcement, are detrimental to the safety and security of our campus environments,” he said.
Other regents who own guns, including Ernest Calderon, said allowing guns on campus creates nothing but an unnecessary liability.
“If you asked me how many guns I own, I would say ‘not enough.’ Responsible gun ownership is part of my family tradition,” he said. “However, I don’t understand the need to allow or to justify handguns on campus.”
Police chiefs from each of the three universities’ police departments spoke to the board at its meeting on Thursday about campus safety in response to the Legislature’s continual attempts to pass legislation allowing concealed weapons on campus.
Anthony Daykin, police chief of the University of Arizona Police Department, has been a gun carrier since he joined the Marine Corps in 1967, he said, but that does not change the fact that guns on campus would create enormous liability for the universities in both cost and safety.
“The more guns, the more likely there will be accidents,” he said, describing an incident when he saw someone get shot when they were sleeping because a fellow Marine Corps member was cleaning a gun. If everyone was trained to carry firearms and continued to get re-certified like police officers, he said, that would be different. But that is simply not a reality, Daykin added.
The UA’s Faculty Senate also passed a resolution against the issue, and Edward Beck, chief of staff of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, went to a press conference at the House of Representatives to advocate against the bill.
“The guns on campus argument goes beyond political lines and constitutional rights,” Beck said. “The discussion holds its merits based on the safety of students.”
Beck told representatives that while the violent crime rate fell last year by 6.4 percent nationwide, Arizona saw nearly a 2 percent increase. This casts further doubt on the claim that liberal gun laws decrease crime, he said. In addition, because the legislation only allows individuals age 21 or older to carry guns on campus, 18 to 20-year-olds will have to fend for themselves against carriers, Beck said.
“The big question is, are they (representatives) keeping their constituents’ best interests in mind with this legislation?” he asked. “It’s unlikely.”