Report: Guns-on-Campus Bills Fail at State Level Across Nation
The gun lobby's efforts to pass legislation to force colleges and universities to allow loaded, hidden handguns onto their campuses have been met with complete rejection by state legislatures across the United States this year, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a non-partisan organization that works to enact and enforce gun laws, regulations, and public policies. According to a press release the campaign issued yesterday, proponents of guns in the classroom have this year gone zero-for-fifteen with "guns-on-campus" bills, failing in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington. Only two bills are still pending--in Michigan and Ohio--and neither has shown any sign of movement in the last two years, the campaign noted. Only one state--Utah--has ever passed such a law.
"Forcing school administrators to allow guns on campus against their will is a bad idea that needed to be defeated," said Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke. "We are pleased that it failed so consistently across the country this year. The gun lobby made these bills a big priority but they came up empty. Even states that have been friendly to the gun lobby in the past, and legislators who have been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, are sensibly rejecting these dangerous proposals to force more guns on college campuses."
The NRA sent alert after alert to their members this year urging them to back legislation that would arm college students, but each of these bills failed, the Brady campaign said. Even legislators that previously received the organization's backing rejected this new priority of the gun lobby. For example:
- The NRA's "guns on campus" legislation failed in the South Dakota State Senate by a vote of 17-14 in February, with six "A-rated" NRA senators voting against the bill.
- In Indiana, where the legislation fell one vote short of approval in the State Senate, 10 NRA-endorsed senators voted against the bill.
"Arming college students is the wrong lesson to learn from Virginia Tech," Helmke said. "That tragedy teaches us that we need to strengthen background checks so that dangerous people like the mentally ill Virginia Tech shooter cannot buy guns in the first place."
The Brady Campaign first examined the gun lobby's campaign in its report titled "No Gun Left Behind: The Gun Lobby's Campaign to Push Guns Into Colleges and Schools." College and university administrators and police officials have strongly condemned guns-on-campus legislation, the campaign contends, adding that the vast majority of students are also opposed. Law enforcement officials are concerned that arming untrained students and faculty will lead to more violence, the campaign said. Police Chief Gene Ferrara at the University of Cincinnati recently told CNN "I don't think the answer to bullets flying is to send more bullets flying. My belief is we ought to be focusing on what we do to prevent the shooting from starting," according to the Brady campaign.