News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 3, 2014

Guns: conceal-carry on campus

Students debate presence of handguns at Indiana State

Arthur Foulkes
Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The possibility of allowing concealed weapons on the Indiana State University campus was a hot topic of discussion Thursday night at a “Politics and Pizza” event at Cunningham Memorial Library.

In more than an hour of discussion, many students seemed leery of the idea of allowing their fellow students – or even their professors – to carry concealed guns on campus, but other students spoke in favor of the idea.

“What stops a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun,” said one student during the open discussion portion of the event, which seemed to focus largely on the possibility of a mass shooting, such as took place at Virginia Tech in 2007.

“I would be paranoid” knowing fellow students were carrying concealed guns, said another student.

ISU currently prohibits guns on campus, other than those carried by campus police.

ISU’s new police chief, Joe Newport, told the approximately 100 students at the event he would favor allowing concealed guns on campus if not for other behaviors typically associated with Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights – traditional party nights at the university.

“If everybody behaved themselves, I’m for it,” Newport said.

There were five weapons-related incidents on campus in 2012, Newport said. In the same year, police responded to more than 400 alcohol- and drug-related incidents, he said.

“I don’t know of a university in Indiana that allows weapons on campus,” Newport said. The ISU Board of Trustees sets policy for the university, the chief noted.

Seven states currently have laws allowing concealed weapons on campuses. They are Wisconsin, Mississippi, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oregon and Idaho. Indiana is among several states with no legal stance, effectively allowing universities to decide.

Bethany Alkire, a junior and member of the student senate, said not allowing concealed guns on campus effectively disarms students who must walk from residences off campus to class. She also said most people who have conceal/carry permits are well trained in the proper use of guns.

Next week, Students for Conceal Carry will conduct an “empty holster” protest against the university’s current policy, said A.J. Ingle, president of the organization at ISU. Later in April, the group will also host a conceal/carry theory course, he said.

“There’s already enough stress” for college students, said Cameron Weathers, a sophomore who opposes allowing concealed weapons on campus. “Guns would make for more unwanted conflict,” he said.

Nicole Pickett and Kali Crowell, both freshmen, agreed.

When asked whether professors should be allowed to carry concealed weapons in their classrooms, a large number of students present indicated they would favor that. Others were opposed.

“I’ve seen some professors get pretty angry at students,” Crowell said.

The Politics and Pizza event was hosted by the American Democracy Project. It was the final such event for this school year, organizers said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.