With mass shootings becoming more and more common, many states are passing legislation that would allow those with handgun carry permits to carry concealed guns on college campuses. In May, Tennessee joined those states.
Currently, 10 states allow the carrying of firearms on campus. Along with Tennessee, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, Texas and Wisconsin allow weapons on campus.
While a concealed weapon is not visible, the law has an impact on every person at ETSU.
ETSU only allows full-time faculty and staff to carry on campus, and they must register their weapon and follow the rules ETSU has set in place. These rules do not permit weapons at any indoor, sponsored ETSU event, child and healthcare facilities, disciplinary and tenure hearings or University School. The VA Campus also does not permit concealed weapons.
“Throughout the summer, I have had many emails from concerned students over the new law,” said Nathan Farnor, vice president of ETSU’s Student Government Association. “These are on top of my own concerns as a student, as well.”
Farnor does not believe firearms on campus promote a safe learning environment.
“It makes me nervous,” said freshman Autumn Luhtjarv. “I’m not against having guns, but I’m against having them on a college campus.”
However, not all students felt the same.
“I have my carry permit,” said senior Brittany Trull. “I don’t mind them on campus and do not think it would be a horrible idea for people to keep them in their car or dorm.”
Those opposed cite stress and suicide as a main concern.
Each year, 1,100 students commit suicide, which is enough to deter many students from wanting gun access on campus. While the rate of suicide for professors has not been studied in the U.S., according to Channel 4 News and the Office for National Statistics, the United Kingdom has seen suicide rates among teachers rise 80 percent since 2008.
Concealed weapons are allowed in classrooms, and students have noted that sometimes heated discussions begin. Some wonder if guns will have any impact on these conversations.
Others do not seem concerned, since people who have carry permits have passed background checks and followed the steps to legally obtain a gun.
“I think that students should be allowed to carry on campus,” said an anonymous sophomore student. “If we have the same clearance as faculty and staff, we should be permitted to carry, as well.”
Even some students who grew up around guns and have guns are not in favor of this legislation.
“I have had the opportunity to grow up in a rural area where my family hunted regularly, firearms were stored in our home and I had learned to shoot a gun at a young age,” Farnor said. “Despite being very familiar with firearms, I am still extremely concerned about where those firearms are allowed to be and who is allowed to have them.”
When SGA voted on this legislation last spring, the majority were not in favor, which seems to match the feeling of many students. At ETSU, 0.03 percent of the staff have registered their guns.
Being a school in such a rural area, it is safe to assume that much more than 0.03 percent actually own guns and are carry permit holders.
For more information on how this legislation will affect campus life, visit https://www.etsu.edu/dps/gun-policy/.