Date: April 18, 2011
Southwest Tennessee Community College has joined the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police and numerous presidents, faculty, staff and students of Tennessee's public higher education institutions in opposing the various bills currently pending that would allow guns on college campuses. The primary concern is the safety and security of the students, faculty and staff on the campuses.
"My job on a daily basis is to look after the safety, security and well-being of students, faculty, visitors and staff. And from my perspective, I do not think 'Guns on Campuses' is a good thing. There are a great deal of stressors associated with higher education and this bill, if passed, will no doubt only add to those stressors and ultimately compromise the safety of all,"said James Bolden, director of Police Services/Public Safety at Southwest Tennessee Community College.
Law enforcement officials nationwide have expressed concern that campuses will become less safe with more gun carriers by complicating law enforcement response to potential threats. "Just because someone is permitted to carry a weapon, we cannot presume the individual's ability or skill set with that weapon during an alarming situation," wrote Chief David Beams, TACP president, and Chief August Washington, chairman of the TACP University Committee and chief of the Vanderbilt University Police Department, in a letter to the General Assembly. The University of Tennessee System and the Tennessee Board of Regents have both strongly opposed the bills for several reasons, with safety the primary concern. Both support the current law that prohibits anyone other than law enforcement officers to have weapons on campus.
Recent campus crime reports indicate Tennessee college campuses are often safer than the communities that surround them. College officials are also concerned about the added liabilities and costs they could face if the laws are changed.
House Bill 2016 is scheduled to come up this Tuesday, April 19, in the House Judiciary Committee. As amended, it will allow all full-time faculty and staff members of public postsecondary institutions with a concealed weapon permit to carry a concealed firearm on campus after completing a two-hour handgun safety training course. The bill does not pertain to students, part-time employees or adjunct faculty members. The bill provides that if an institution elects to opt out, it will have a duty to guarantee and warrant the health and safety of persons on the campus.
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