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Oklahoma lawmakers renew efforts to allow guns on campus

An interim legislative study will look once again at allowing licensed faculty, staff and students to carry weapons on Oklahoma college campuses. Higher education officials say it would make campuses more dangerous.
by Kathryn McNutt Published: July 28, 2014
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Allowing students, faculty and staff to carry guns on campus would make Oklahoma’s colleges and universities safer, say lawmakers who are pushing for the change.

Officials at Oklahoma’s two largest campuses couldn’t disagree more.

“Placing guns on campus, except in the hands of highly trained law enforcement officers and professionals, would be a serious mistake and would lead only to tragic results,” University of Oklahoma President David Boren said.

“To put our university students, faculty and staff at risk in this way makes absolutely no sense.”

Rep. John Enns, R-Enid, and Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, argue that licensed gun owners should be able to protect themselves on state campuses.

Enns said statistics show 20 percent of students will be assaulted at some point during their four years on campus.

“I hear from a lot of parents of college kids, and I hear from college kids, as well,” he said.

“For anyone to say our college campuses are safe, that’s totally not true.”

Currently, a licensed gun owner can carry a weapon on campus only with the written consent of the college president.

“The laws are not meant to protect you. They’re meant to punish the violator,” Enns said.

Shortey agrees the focus is wrong.

“If there were a predator out there whose prey is young college-aged women and he wanted to assault them, where would he go to do that? He would go to a place where they are vulnerable, where they are unarmed and where he has the highest chance of success. And that is a college campus,” Shortey said.

Campus gun policy should be built around the faculty, staff and students who are on the campus every day, he said.

Shortey said statistics show crime rates are higher on campuses than the areas surrounding them.

“I have never seen statistics that support that,” said Michael Robinson, Oklahoma State University’s chief public safety officer. “Your chances of being mugged in the city on the strip are much greater than on campus.

“It depends largely on your behavior either place,” said Robinson, who became OSU’s police chief 10 years ago after 20 years of municipal police work.

Crime reports

Schools are required to submit annually reports of crimes to the federal government under the Clery Act.

The most recent numbers posted for aggravated assaults on campus show OU had one each in 2010 and 2011 and none in 2012, and OSU had three in 2010 and one each in 2011 and 2012.

Reports of forcible sex offenses on campus at OU numbered two in 2010, 13 in 2011 and eight in 2012. At OSU, there were three reports in 2010, six in 2011 and eight in 2012.

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by Kathryn McNutt
Higher Education Reporter
Kathryn McNutt covers higher education for The Oklahoman and NewsOK. Since joining the staff in August 2000, she also has worked as the Breaking News editor, Metro editor and assistant Local editor. A native of Oklahoma City, she graduated from...
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AT A GLANCE

From the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education 2014 Legislative Priorities:

“There is no scenario in which allowing guns on campuses will do anything other than create a more dangerous environment for our students, faculty and visitors. In the past six legislative sessions, bills have either been introduced or discussed that would allow guns on campus. Each attempt has been successfully defeated to date, and ensuring similar legislation does not become law will continue to be a state system priority.”

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