The rocket scientists in the State Capital voted to allow college students to bear arms on campus

First creationism, now this? The leges in red stick voted to allow college students to bear arms? Those with concealed weapons permits of course. And what if some student gets angry in class and decides to blow away their professor? Maybe the leges should allow this in all state buildings, so there will be folks at the capital walking around the leges, armed and locked and loaded. Think of it this way too – do you want your child sitting next to a student packing a pistol? Would these leges want this for THEIR children, say at LSU?

Note the New Orleans area leges that voted for this bill – Joseph Lopinto, R-Metairie; Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans; John Schroder, R-Covington; Gary Smith, D-Norco; Ricky Templet, R-Gretna

Panel OKs campus guns – bill moves to full House for debate

Mike Hasten
mhasten@gannett.com

BATON ROUGE – College students should be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus to protect themselves and others, a House committee decided Thursday over pleas from campus officials that it would lead to chaos.

Students on both sides of the issue said they were concerned about safety.

Supporters of the proposal said if students were allowed to carry guns on campus, they could have helped stop some of the recent shootings on college campuses around the country.

“For me, it’s not fair that we are not able to defend ourselves,” said Geoffrey Green, a student at Southeastern Louisiana University who urged approval of the measure. Green was joined by one other student who addressed the committee but a number of others submitted cards in support.

Cinnamon Salvador, chief of campus police at McNeese State University, said the belief that armed students could have stopped campus shootings is “fantasy.” Their guns “would more likely be used against each other.”

College student leaders and Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Savoie argued that allowing guns on campus could lead to more violence.

Kyle Chandler, a student at LSU in Baton Rouge who said he grew up with guns and hunted since he was 6 years old, said “I don’t trust myself or any of my fellow students to carry guns.” He said he was concerned about “vigilante justice.”

“This bill will not create a safe environment on campus,” said Steven Jackson, one of three Grambling State University students to address the panel. Instead, it would “create a hostile environment.”

He reminded the committee that random shots fired on the GSU campus last week shut down the university and “that’s the kind of environment this bill creates.”

Presidents of the University of Louisiana System and Community and Technical College System campuses and student government presidents statewide have adopted resolutions opposing the bill.

Savoie urged the committee to do as 13 other states have done and defeat the proposal.

Campus police chiefs from across the state joined Salvador in opposition to the measure.

UL Monroe Police Chief Larry Ellerman, a police and military veteran, said he doubts students and faculty members could remain calm with guns in their hands if there was a disturbance on a campus.

He said he has witnessed trained officers under fire and “people react differently.” He said in such stressful moments, even trained police officers “20 percent of the time hit what they’re aiming at.”

Noting that the doors of the state Capitol bear signs warning that it is a firearm-free zone, Savoie said, “It is not less important to protect college students on campus than it is to protect legislators at this state Capitol.”

Despite objections that it could lead to, as expressed by state Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, “the wild, wild West,” the committee approved House Bill 199 with an 11-3 vote and sent it to the full House for debate.

“This really scares me,” said state Rep. Roy Burrell, D-Shreveport, one of the three committee members who voted against the proposal. “A bullet has no name, no respect for a person. Who would decide who shoots who and when?” if a police officer answers a call to a shooting and arrives to find several people holding a gun.

State Rep. Ernest Wooton, D-Belle Chasse, author of HB199 and chairman of the House Criminal Justice Committee, said his bill would not lead to more violence on campus and “We’re not going to have a run on concealed gun permits. We’re not going to have 20,000 students lined up Monday morning to get a concealed gun permit.”

Louisiana law requires that applicants for concealed weapons permits be at least 21 years of age and submit to a background check.

Committee member Joseph Lopinto, a former Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputy, said that in the past 12 years Louisiana has allowed the public to get permits to carry concealed weapons, 1,830 have been issued to people 21 to 30 years old. He said probably less than 200 of those are issued to college-aged students.

“It’s not about the Virginia Tech shootings,” Lopinto said. “It’s about you walking to your car at night.”

and this from today concerning the debate

Campus-gun debate hot

Panel backs bill to allow carrying weapons at schools

* By JORDAN BLUM
* Advocate Capitol News Bureau
* Published: May 2, 2008 – Page: 1A – UPDATED: 12:05 a.m.

Legalizing permitted handguns on college campuses took its first major step toward approval Thursday after three hours of debate in a legislative committee.

Gun advocates, faculty, students and college police chiefs lined up on all sides of the controversial issue that has arisen in the wake of campus shootings nationwide, including at LSU and Baton Rouge’s Louisiana Technical College.

House Bill 199 by Rep. Ernest Wooten, R-Belle Chasse, was approved in an 11-3 vote in the House Criminal Justice Committee. HB199 next moves to debate in the full House.

Wooten said allowing more responsible people to legally carry guns would serve as a deterrent to killers and not create the “wild, wild west.”

Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport countered, “It’s supposed to be higher education and higher learning, but it seems to me we’re preparing for war.”

Although most of the students who testified opposed the legislation, Southeastern Louisiana University College Republican Geoffrey Green said he only wants to be able to defend his friends if necessary.

“I feel defenseless,” said Green, who legally must keep a gun in his vehicle on campus. “It’s not fair that we’re not able to defend ourselves.”

“Where I spend most of my time, I am mandated to be unprotected,” LSU law student Elizabeth Cooke added.

Southern University student body president Carey Ash said the focus should be on increasing police staffing, not adding more guns. Ash warned that changing the law would harm the recruitment of out-of-state students.

“It is worrisome to not only worry about class grades, but who next to you might have a gun,” said Ash, who chairs the Louisiana Council of Student Body Presidents.

Grambling State University student body vice president Steven Jackson said he sees a more “hostile environment” with more guns on campuses.

“We should be talking about textbooks. We should be talking about scholarships,” Jackson said. “We shouldn’t be talking about guns on college campuses.”

To apply for a permit, a Louisiana resident must be at least 21 years old, take some training and not have a felony record.

HB199 would make it legal to carry licensed, concealed handguns on all public and private colleges, from technical schools to universities.

The National Rifle Association-backed bill also would forbid colleges from limiting the rights of gun owners from carrying concealed handguns. The bill would only allow colleges to regulate the safeguarding of guns when they are put away.

The state’s list of “firearm-free zones” now includes schools and colleges.

Utah is the only state that allows handguns on campuses. Several other states, particularly in the South, have already rejected proposed college handgun bills this year.

State Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Savoie emphasized that the bill will not allow campuses to regulate themselves.

“What we’re talking about is taking away the authority of the colleges to protect their students,” Savoie said.

Savoie said permitted gun carriers from students to food-service personnel would be carrying handguns from classrooms to LSU’s Tiger Stadium.

“That gives new meaning to Death Valley,” Savoie said.

In the last few months, two international students at LSU were murdered in an on-campus apartment. Weeks later, a Louisiana Technical College student killed two classmates before killing herself.

In 2001-2005, there were 43 murders on college campuses nationwide out of 18 million students, Savoie said.

There were 49 homicides in 2005 in Baton Rouge alone, he said.

“College campuses are much safer than the communities that surround them,” Savoie said, arguing that adding more guns will only increase the risk.

Maurice Franks, a Southern University Law Center professor, said he feels unsafe walking from his office to his car late at night.

“It (the law) allows me to carry a handgun just about everywhere in Louisiana except where I need it most,” Franks said.

NRA representative Tara Mica said only about 25,000 concealed handgun permits were issued in the past 12 years in Louisiana. That would mean only few additional guns on campuses, she said.

McNeese State University Police Chief Cinnamon Salvador said 93 percent of crimes against college students occur off campus.
Also, college students are more prone to abuse alcohol, drugs and to attempt suicide.

“You add firearms to the mix, it’s going to be deadly,” she said.

Noting that the state Capitol is a gun-free zone, Salvador said, “If you believe for one second that concealed firearms are our best defense, then why aren’t we allowed to carry firearms here today?”

Voting for the bill were Wooton and Reps. Damon Baldone, D-Houma; Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas; Mickey Guillory, D-Eunice; Chris Hazel, R-Ball; Joseph Lopinto, R-Metairie; Nick Lorusso, R-New Orleans; John Schroder, R-Covington; Gary Smith, D-Norco; Ricky Templet, R-Gretna; and Bodi White, R-Central.

Voting against the bill were Norton and Reps. Roy Burrell, D-Shreveport, and Frankie Howard, R-Hornbeck.

On Saturday May 3, the Times Picayune weighs in on the subject

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~ by maringouin on Friday, May 2, 2008.

2 Responses to “The rocket scientists in the State Capital voted to allow college students to bear arms on campus”

  1. What Mike Hasten and others of his ilk do not understand is that laws are written for law abiding people only. Does he seriously think that guns are not already on campus, in the pockets of people who do not respect laws? Have laws of any kind ever stopped criminal activities? If they did, we would never need police, would we?

    If he prefers to be vulnerable to assailants, fine. However, there are those of us who prefer to have a chance to protect ourselves in the face of an attack on our person or property.

  2. Then let ALL public buildings allow people in bearing arms and let the legislators be exposed to those who carry weapons, NOT JUST COLLEGE INSTRUCTORS

    Otherwise this bill is plain stupid

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