Student Government Association Senator Brandon Johnson plans to introduce two pieces of legislation to the SGA Senate in the coming weeks dealing with the presence of firearms on the ETSU campus.
One of the pieces of legislation will request the university take a positive stance on the concealed carry of firearms.
“It’s pretty extensive training to get your concealed carry permit,” Johnson said.
“It’s the people without concealed carry permits that you have to worry about.
“If you have a concealed carry permit, you’re obeying the law.”
Johnson said the issue is less about gun control than it is a debate about logic.
“If I’m an individual and I’m 21 years of age,” Johnson said. “And I have a concealed carry permit and I can carry at Wal-Mart or I can carry at my church or place of faith and I can carry at the movie theater and I can carry in day-cares, and I can carry X,Y and Z, but you can’t carry in the collegiate campus, to me that’s just a little ridiculous.”
ETSU Public Safety Chief Jack Cotrel said the concealed carry of firearms on the university campus would likely produce more harm than good.
“Put yourself in the position of one of my officers,” Cotrel said. “Let’s just go into fantasy land a minute and say, ‘OK, ETSU allows valid permit carriers to carry a concealed weapon on campus.’
“All of a sudden you’re in the amphitheater or some location and shots start, police officers respond, they see five people with drawn weapons. Who’s the bad guy?”
Cotrel said in the past he was active in supporting the Tennessee Board of Regent’s position against a piece of legislation allowing staff and faculty to carry weapons on campus.
“I was opposed to that as were virtually all my colleagues across the state who are in campus law enforcement administration,” Cotrel said. “The Tennessee Chiefs Association also opposed that legislation.”
Johnson said the scenario presented by Cotrel is part of a gun control debate and doesn’t extend to the piece of legislation he’s presenting to the student senate.
“That’s the one thing when presenting this legislation we have to keep totally separate,” Johnson said. “I understand his concern, but it’s the same concern that an officer may have at Wal-Mart or the same concern an officer may have at a mall. That’s a gun control debate, that’s not a debate we’re having. We’re having a debate on why if you can carry it X, Y and Z, what makes a collegiate campus any different.”
Johnson said he hopes the legislation will encourage the university to begin lobbying the state government for the creation of pro-concealed carry legislation, but ultimately, he doesn’t believe the legislation will pass the student senate.
“Both pieces of legislation right now have a full slate of sponsors,” Johnson said. “So clearly there are segment of students that feel pretty passionate about this.”
Johnson said even if the legislation does pass, the university will probably not consider taking a positive concealed carry stance.
“I could be surprised,” Johnson said.
“Dr. Noland and his administration may say, ‘Hey, we think this is a great idea, we are proponents of the second amendment, students should be allowed to concealed carry,’ but they could not, who knows. I hope to be surprised, but my assumption would be that they are probably not interested.”