Bill could allow guns to be carried on college campuses
Firearms may soon be allowed on Arizona college campuses if Senate Bill 1474 is passed.
This past April, Gov. Brewer vetoed the bill, which was then SB 1467. In her veto letter, she said the bill was too ambiguous in stating its key concepts of where weapons can be carried and how K-12 schools will be affected.
“Bills impacting our Second Amendment rights have to be crystal clear so that gun owners don’t become lawbreakers by accident,” Brewer said. The bill has been modified to correct the areas in which Brewer said were too vague, in hopes of being passed this time around.
NAU President, John Haeger, does not believe this bill should be passed and is doing everything in his power to stop it. He said the National Rifle Association (NRA) is pushing the bill as a Second Amendment right, but he believes students’ constitutional rights are already being met.
“I’m absolutely, entirely opposed to the idea of having guns on campus,” Haeger said. “This whole agenda [is] being pushed by the NRA. It’s their latest effort to take a Second Amendment right, which people have, to have a gun. But that doesn’t mean they can be used or it doesn’t mean they can be carried any place people want.”
According to Haeger, if guns are allowed on campus the university’s mission would be infringed upon. He said campus authorities are resistant to have firearms on campus.
“I just think it gets in the way of our basic mission,” Haeger said. “There’s not a problem here. Students don’t want guns, faculty doesn’t want guns [and] administrators don’t want guns. And so this is entirely about somebody’s ideology.”
Haeger expressed that his main concern is that in the event of a shooting on campus, NAUPD would have to decipher who is the antagonist of the situation — which could become dangerous.
“The nightmare scenario is [that] there is actually an active shooter on campus,” Haeger said. “Somebody has a gun, and what could happen is all of a sudden the police come to a scene and there are five people standing there with a gun. How do you know which one is the problem?”
Blaise Caudill, president of ASNAU, said he is also opposed to this bill. ASNAU is against allowing guns on campus.
“Me, personally I do not agree with the bill,” Caudill said. “But, as ASNAU, we have taken a stance against guns on campus as well. The resolution actually passed yesterday. We [do not] want to have guns on campus [because] it’s a completely different situation.”
As president of the student body, Caudill said he feels a heightened responsibility to protect the students and ensure that NAU remains a top academic institution.
“Inherently, I care about what happens with this bill and take on that extra responsibility just because I care about what happens to campus,” Caudill said. “That is intensified now as president, because I care so much about what NAU is and what NAU stands for as a university. And so, I’m really invested in making sure this doesn’t pass because I want NAU to be the community it still is.”
Caudill expressed that he hopes students will support ASNAU in standing against this bill and finding alternative ways to keep campus safe.
“I think that it’s just really important for all students to really rally behind this and to really emphasize the fact that this isn’t anti-gun in any way, and not that’s how [it] should be perceived at all,” Caudill said. “The message is we need to keep campuses safe — but there are other ways to go about that and we need to research those ways.”
Tim Ray, a junior biology major, said he does not think there is anything wrong with carrying guns on campus because there are inevitably people who already do.
“I don’t think that anyone should be telling an individual what [they] can or can’t have in a public place,” Ray said. “I don’t think that there’s necessarily a threat to be controlled with guns. I already assume [students] do [carry guns] despite the rules, so having it be allowed wouldn’t change my idea about that.”
However, Danielle Mierzwa, a freshman art major, said she does not approve of students carrying firearms on campus. In fact, she said she might reconsider where she is going to school if the bill is passed.
“I might rethink of where I’m going to school on campus if I knew the amount of guns on it,” Mierzwa said. “I probably wouldn’t want to be a part of it really. People can bear arms in their own homes but I feel like on campus, if you’re living on campus, it’s not your own home really. I don’t feel like you should be allowed to have guns inside of it.”