Firearms Unlikely at UAlbany
By Samantha Potter
The right to carry a concealed weapon on New York State campuses is unlikely to be allowed by the state, despite a recent ruling in Colorado that gives students the freedom to pack heat with a permit while on one of Colorado’s state campuses, according to University at Albany police officers and professors.
Campus police spokesman Aran Mull said he believes New York State gun laws are too strict to allow for a ruling like the one in Colorado that passed last September.
New York is one of the strictest states in the nation with regards to the purchase, possession, and carrying of handguns. The SUNY system, which has 64 campuses, bans the right for anyone except police to carry a weapon on its campuses. Administration only allows guns on campuses under strict circumstances. A student may fill out an application to store their guns with campus police in which the presidents’ office must approve beforehand. The only way in which a student is permitted to have a gun on a SUNY campus is for an educational program, scientific research, and target shooting activities under the supervision of the university, or for the storage of sporting arms.
A University at Albany professor in the criminal justice department (that wishes to remain anonymous) said it’s a bad idea to allow students to carry weapons.
“I would personally feel uncomfortable seeing my students having guns in the classroom,” she said. She feels students are not responsible enough to carry guns and there is a lack of maturity in most college students to be able to carry a concealed weapon.
“I wouldn’t feel less safe in class if my students had a gun, but I would feel uncomfortable because I wouldn’t know who is allowed to have a gun and who isn’t,” she said.
Chief Gerald W. Schoenle Jr., who heads the University at Buffalo campus police, said, “The idea of permitting concealed weapons on a college campus would be a public safety risk to our campus community.” There are more than 400,000 students and nearly 90,000 employees who have no real need to defend themselves while on a SUNY campus.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation states that 18-21 year olds are seven times safer on college campuses than in the community. Inspector Aran Mull of the University at Albany Police Department said, “You shoot to live, not to kill,” and he doesn’t know if students on a college campus are mature enough to understand that.
Mull says the UAlbany police department would be against guns on campus’ because it would make their job harder in that they wouldn’t know exactly who is and isn’t suppose to be carrying a gun.
In September, Colorado passed the Colorado Concealed Carry Act after battling with gun rights activists and anti-gun rights activists about the legal right for United State citizens to carry concealed weapons on college campuses. Colorado became the fifth state to allow guns on campus, and the controversial ruling has raised many concerns among parents, students, and professors at various state universities.
In Colorado, Melissa Cumberland, a parent of a ninth grader, said this law would most likely not keep her daughter from looking into a school where concealed weapons were allowed. However, her biggest concern would be the use and possible abuse of the firearm under the influence of alcohol.
Professor Jerry Peterson of Colorado University said he plans to cancel class if he ever learns any of his students are carrying firearms. Peterson said a student with a gun would be a classroom distraction.
Twenty-one states ban concealed weapons on a college campus including: Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming. In 24 states the decision to ban or allow concealed carry weapons on campuses is made by each college or university individually: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
Due to recent state legislation and court rulings, five states now have provisions allowing the carrying of concealed weapons on public post-secondary campuses. These states are Colorado, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin. The state legislature and governor is the one who decides the gun laws of each state.