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Guns on Campus

Tuesday, March 3, 2009 - 6:25pm

Guns on college campuses is an issue sparking major debate about rights and just how safe our schools can be. Our Lauren Unger has been following this story and as she explains, a State Representative is poised to bring the debate back to the Legislature.

The bill never made it past the House last year, but the representative who sponsored it vowed to bring it back and that’s just what he’s done. He’s filed this identical version of last year’s measure.

It’s been nearly two years since a student on a rampage killed more than 30 people at Virginia Tech. For many, that raised questions about school safety. LSU student Edward Anderson says, “That was just a tragedy on campus that we can’t bring back, you know.” But could guns on campus be the answer? Adam Jennings thinks so, “I think I’d have a better chance of defending myself with a weapon than with my bare hands.”

For the second straight year, Representative Earnest Wooten of Belle Chasse has filed a bill that would allow licensed students to carry concealed handguns on campus. Kaitlin Pruett says, “If they’ve deemed that it’s okay for you to have a gun, then you should be able to carry it.” Jake Dehamer disagrees, “Next thing you know you have guns on campuses and guns on high schools and everywhere else. And that’s just not good enough, people are responsible to have guns.”

Jim McClain of Jim’s Firearms has been in the gun business for years, training people in the use of firearms. He has mixed emotions about the bill. “I think that anybody at 21 years of age who can apply for a concealed carry permit and get one should be able to carry, but it’s not for everybody.”

Regardless of the outcome of the bill, many of the gun experts we spoke with say at the end it’s all about proper education. “You get more and more people interested in carrying concealed, that means more and more people taking the concealed weapons course, but they’ll be more educated on gun safety.”

It is a loaded issue with plenty of passion on both sides. Last time, university leaders publicly opposed the bill, leading to its demise. This time around, Wooten says he’s been working hard to garner more support.