When Arizona legislators proposed a law on April 7 that would allow anyone older than 18 to carry a visible firearm on college campuses, the bill sparked a debate at several universities across the nation.
Many members of the Boston University community agreed that a similar bill should not be brought to Massachusetts.
BU spokesman Colin Riley said it is “extraordinarily unlikely” the university would ever allow guns on campus.
“It will never happen in Massachusetts and certainly not at BU,” Riley said. “Gun laws may be looser in other states, but not in Massachusetts. There are other states where gun ownership and gun laws are different, but in Massachusetts they are restrictive.”
Some students said they do not feel like they need to carry a gun to be safe on BU’s campus.
“I think it’s completely unnecessary, especially in Boston where there’s intense security on campus. I just can’t think of one good reason to have guns on campus,” said College of Communications senior Casey Byron.
Allowing anyone with a gun license to bring their weapon to class made some students feel uneasy, they said.
“I think it’s actually making the campus more dangerous with more people allowed to just walk around with guns,” said COM junior Alyssa Palermo. “You’d have to have one to protect yourself – it just perpetuates violence.”
“I wouldn’t feel safe because in the college environment that I’ve experienced, there’s an insubstantial amount of trust,” added College of Arts and Sciences freshman Edmond Gamelin . “It’s pretty frivolous. It’s just exercising the second amendment. Even though it’s nice to fully explore the rights of being a U.S. citizen, it’s potentially dangerous with the prevalence of alcohol on a college campus.”
However, some people, such as Jon Green, the Gun Owners’ Action League director of education, argue that allowing guns on college campuses would be a good way for students to exercise their civil rights.
“I think that any person of good character should be about to carry arms for protection outside of their home,” Green said in a phone interview. “I think we all have the moral and ethical responsibility to know how to carry and use fire arms safely.”
Others, such as Andrew Pelosi, the director of the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, are pushing for safer environments on college campuses.
“We have over 275 colleges and universities that are part of the coalition to keep guns off campus,” Pelosi said in a phone interview. “For the most part, campuses are safe environments.”
The homicide rate at college campuses was at 0.13 percent in 2000, according to a Safe Schools Initiative Division study, while the homicide rate of America as a whole was 5.7 percent.
However, if guns were allowed on college campuses, Pelosi said, crime rates may increase.
“I think that it’s hard to speculate, but if guns were to be stored in dormitories with drinking going on, they might be able to be stolen and used,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi said many professors would be uncomfortable with lethal weapons in class.
If fights involving guns were to erupt, Pelosi said, it would be difficult for campus police officers to end a violent situation.
“Campus law enforcements are against this because they wouldn’t know how to tell who the good guy or the bad guy is in a fight,” he said. “Schools would have to hire more security.”
According to concealedcampus.org, Massachusetts is one of 24 states that expressly prohibit guns on campus.