By Anna Martino, Copy Editor —
In 2016, UTC enacted a law permitting full-time employees with a proper handgun permit and an approved notice of intent to carry a concealed handgun on the university’s property, with a few exceptions to this which can be found on UTC’s website.
The SGA Spring 2018 Special Referendum was used to take a poll of students’ opinions on whether or not to add a law enabling students (who are over the age of 21 and with a valid gun permit) to carry concealed weapons on campus as well. Although the results of this pole are used to pass recommendations to UTC’s administration and not be implemented immediately based off the student consensus, the staff of the Echo has a few thoughts about this new law even being considered upon taking into consideration the recent shootings across the country.
The overarching theme of the responses to this topic was an evoked sense of tension, fear and anxiousness if students were allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus. It was recognized that carrying guns does allow those carrying to have a sense of protection, but one member on the staff noted that one good person with a gun cannot always stop a shooter and that several people were armed during the Vegas shooting.
Most of the staff commented that with an increased number of guns on campus, there could also be an increased likelihood of an accident. It was agreed on by many that they do not feel comfortable with even professors being armed after the incident in Dalton—commenting that guns should not be able to be carried on campus at all, excluding the campus police.
In light of the recent school shootings, many members of staff agreed that teaching differs greatly than other professions who operate guns, while one individual on staff provided the argument the professors should be able to carry, in order to have the opportunity to protect their students and save lives if there was an active shooter on campus.
One solution provided for allowing the concealment of guns on UTC’s campus included requiring everyone (full-time employees and students) with a valid gun permit to complete a gun and safety training that would then authorize them to carry on campus.
Regardless of what law is passed, the threat of an active gunman will remain. However, if the decision is made for SGA to advocate for this new law allowing qualified to carry concealed weapons on campus, the results would be very mixed with part of the campus being very happy, but the ones that are unhappy are likely to be extremely vocal in their disagreement.
Overall, we see the validity in both sides regarding carrying a concealed weapon on campus, however, the law that is already established and the potential new law could decrease the feelings of safety and security on campus—except among those who own a gun and chose to conceal and carry. For as sensitive as a topic as this, though, the whole student population should be considered before SGA forms an opinion on which side to take because many students will choose not to participate in a survey sent via email.