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Concealed carry issue comes to campus

By Ryan O'Neill
On February 20, 2013

In the near future, campus police in Illinois may not be the only ones allowed to have guns on university campuses.

In December 2012, federal courts struck down a ban that prohibited citizens of Illinois from carrying concealed weapons. The ruling gave lawmakers 180 days to write rules and laws to allow concealed carry in Illinois.

Illinois is the only state that has a ban on carrying concealed weapons. Under the second amendment, federal courts determined the ban to be unconstitutional.

This allows citizens to carry weapons in public settings such as malls, restaurants, movie theaters and university campuses. The ruling states that you have just as much rights to protect yourself outside of your home as you do inside.

The possibility of guns on the campus of Governors State University is something that students have to be conscious of. So how do students feel about their classmates or teachers bringing guns into a classroom or lecture?

Mike Brittian, a Media Communications major, thinks that concealed carry is not the answer. He also believes that there needs to be stricter gun laws and background checks. "If I saw a student with a concealed weapon, I would be worried," said Brittian.

Rachael Foster, a Communications Disorder major, believes that those who decide to carry concealed weapons need to be responsible. "The only people who could stop bad guys with guns are good guys with guns," said Foster, quoting from a speech by National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

If GSU President Elaine Maimon has her way there will not be any guns toted around in backpacks and briefcases on campus.

Maimon wrote a column in the Northwest Indiana Times stating the importance for legislation that keeps guns off university campuses.

"Gun advocates argue that guns don't kill people; people kill people. The truth of the matter is that people with guns kill people," Maimon write in the column.

She states that student safety is first at GSU and the only firearms should be in the hands of officers trained to protect us. Maimon also believes that gun assailants are not deterred by the thought that innocent people might be armed.

"Research shows that armed civilians who are taken by surprise are more likely to injure innocent bystanders than they are to stop the perpetrator," she said in her column.

James McGee, Chief of Police at GSU, also stated he opposes guns on campus. "I am totally against it," said McGee. "Our officers go through numerous hours of training. There is a lack of training for citizens to carry and use weapons. They are required to go through very minimum training. Other than a required 8 hour course no other training is required."

In the wake of recent U.S mass shootings, the argument is also being made that stricter guns laws and armed law-abiding citizens can prevent shootings.

According to Caron Jacobson of GSU's Criminal Justice Department, believes that concealed carry does not prevent mass shootings. In the majority of recent mass shootings, the assailant didn't have a concealed carry permit, and didn't use a gun they owned.

"Laws that ban a behavior/action do not prevent it from happening when an individual has their mind set on committing the act banned," said Jacobson.

As the conceal carry ruling goes through the legislative process, students at GSU should be aware that by fall semester the student sitting next to you might be packing more than books in their backpack.

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