Here’s What Arkansas Students And Faculty Have To Say To Guns On Campus
When Arkansas State Representative Charlie Collins proposed the latest version of his guns-on-campus bill early this month, he had—for the first time—a Republican majority in the Arkansas State House. Now, a new group of students and faculty who oppose the legislation is orchestrating resistance across the state.
Arkansans Against Guns on Campus started at the University of Arkansas, where students Aaron Gibson, Ezra Smith and Austin Ross created a Facebook page to organize among friends. Membership soon expanded into friends of friends, faculty, and staff—and then onto other college campuses.
One of the founders said he was encouraged by the unexpected display of opposition to the bill, which would allow university staff to carry concealed weapons on the job.
“The outpouring of support we've seen on and offline has been incredible,” Ross said in an email statement. “We've had over a hundred people show up at forums with our legislators to make absolutely sure they know that the vast, sweeping majority of students, faculty, staff and administrators think this bill is a bad idea. We had people writing, calling, tweeting, doing everything possible to get in contact with their legislators and it worked.”
After the outpouring by students and staff, the bill was amended to allow campuses to opt-out of the concealed weapons portion of the bill.
“Many students are apathetic towards politics and thus are ignorant of the power they hold,” said co-founder Aaron Gibson in an email statement. “If they recognized the power they had and wielded it, politicians would begin listening to students.”
Concealed carry on campus is a hot legislative issue in other states as well. Both Georgia and Texas are considering similar bills, and 23 states current leave the decision to individual schools. Twenty-one states ban the practice outright.
“It is important not to let fear penetrate our campus,” Smith said. “Campuses are places where massive amounts of people come to learn and study. The presence of guns on campus shakes that whole idea of campuses as places of learning and peace. We cannot be ignorant enough to believe that everyone needs a gun in order to feel safe.”
Marc Peters is a reporter at Campus Progress.You can follow Marc on Twitter at @rippleofhope.