ETSU College Democrats want to educate their peers on the dangers of gun violence.
Catherine Tucker, ETSU’s College Democrats president, is an advocate for gun control. On Friday, she sat at a table in the Cave willing to talk to anyone about the dangers of carrying a concealed weapon.
“These are the areas in which your faculty and staff can carry a loaded concealed weapon,” Tucker said, while pointing to a map of campus which highlights where faculty and staff can carry. “It’s kind of misleading, because you can’t see them carrying it or know if they’re carrying a gun…it’s kind of scary a little bit and makes you kind of paranoid. Faculty and staff cannot carry a gun in any buildings that have a counseling center, a health facility or Little Bucs and you cannot carry it on University High campus either.”
As of July 1, 2016, full time employees at public universities in Tennessee can carry a concealed weapon on colleges campuses.
“And we’re also telling them [students] they [state government] want to open it up to students so they can carry as well,” Tucker said. “So, I’m also telling them about how dangerous it is, because suicide rates among students is super high, higher than any other person. And so, having a gun access in your dorm, just right there and you’re suicidal, you’re going to do it most likely.”
According to Emory University, over a thousand suicides happen on college campuses each year and suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between 15-24 years old.
“It’s just about safety and promoting awareness, because a lot of time, people will walk by and I’ll be like, ‘Hi, have you heard about guns on campus?’ and they’ll say they didn’t even know teachers could carry,” Tucker said. “So, a lot of people don’t know about it and so we want to promote that awareness and give them the option to write to their legislatures about it if they don’t want it to happen.”
However, not every student at ETSU thinks that students carrying on campus is unsafe.
“My opinion is that if a person has earned a Tennessee Handgun carry permit, and carries a gun through their daily life, why is it they must give up that right when they step on campus?” said Hoyt Cowell, a member of ETSU’s Conservative Coalition. “I can understand not letting them into dorms or sporting events, but it’s ridiculous that I am stripped of my right to defend myself.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislature, there are 17 states that don’t permit carrying a concealed weapon on college campuses and there are 24 states that allow each university to choose individually whether they will allow employees or students to carry on their campus.
“Faculty members have been allowed to carry for 6 months now without any incidents occurring,” Cowell said. “If certain requirements and regulations were put in place, I have no doubt, the same would be said if students were allowed to carry.”