Students in some states in the US have allowed students to carry concealed weapons in public college campuses. Republican-dominated legislatures in Texas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin passed bills that permit students to carry guns into classrooms, dormitories and other buildings.
This move has elicited a wide range of reactions, with gun rights advocates hailing it as a win while students and professors described it as irresponsible and unnecessary. According to the New York Times, the bill would become effective in August 2016 in universities and August 2017 in community colleges.
However, professors fear for their lives and argue that the move could have chilling effect on campus life. They hold that it would be suicidal inviting students to their offices to talk about a failing grade when the learners are armed with guns.
Even as Texas passed the bill, NYT reported that nineteen other States ban concealed weapons on campus, including California, Florida and New York, and 23 others, including Alabama and Arizona, leave the decision to the colleges or state board of regents.
The article, Texas Lawmakers Pass a Bill Allowing Guns at Colleges says Republican lawmakers also approved an open-carry bill, which gives those licensed to have a concealed weapon the option of carrying it openly in a holster, although open carry will not be allowed on a college campus.
In their article, Manny Fernandez and Dave Montgomery found little support for campus carry from interviews with more than a dozen students at the University of Texas at Austin
“The university was the scene of the nation’s first campus mass shooting on Aug. 1, 1966, when a sniper, Charles Whitman, fired at people from the school’s clock tower in a day of violence that left 16 people dead. The campus-carry law will take effect there Aug. 1, 2016, exactly 50 years later,” reported Fernandez and Montgomery.
The bill gives private and independent colleges the option of opting out entirely. Public colleges have no such option, but lawmakers allowed university presidents at public institutions to come up with concealed-weapons regulations that could let them establish gun-free zones on their campuses.
It is exactly two months since the Garissa University attack killed over 150 Kenyans, most of them students. Kenyans continue to grapple with the question of securing learning institutions, with a myriad of suggestions being fronted. For instance, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru is on record saying the government is considering introducing paramilitary training for students after form four before joining campus.
The Ministry of education, on the other hand, has suggested the review of the syllabus to introduce security studies in primary and secondary schools. All these efforts aim at curbing terror threats in learning institutions. Student leaders across the country have also come out in support of enhancing campus security by establishing police posts on every campus following the Garissa massacre. For now, at least, there have been no suggestions to arm university and college students with guns.