Oklahoma college students are 20 paces apart in their views about guns on campus, with much of the battle taking place on student-oriented Web sites like Facebook.
Nearly 500 people have joined the Facebook site Students Against Guns on Campus, started by Oklahoma State University students. One of them, Matt Beier, said allowing concealed weapons would make it harder to tell the "good students from the bad” because now any weapon raises an alarm. He said police would find it hard to know which students are a threat and which are protecting themselves.
"I don't think the way we solve the problem is by giving people more guns,” Beier said.
House Bill 2513, as amended last week, would allow weapons on campus if carried by active-duty military and National Guard and Reserve members, honorably discharged veterans, and those with at least 72 hours firearms training certified by the Council on Law Enforcement Education.
The House measure, which also requires a state concealed weapons license, is now before the state Senate.
Beier worries that some military members returning from war zones may not be psychologically stable.
"In no way am I trying to come off as a crazy liberal insulting soldiers,” he said. "I have friends who went to Iraq and fought in the war. But the number of people coming back from Iraq with mental illness is increasing.”
Dustin Gaunder, another OSU student, disagrees that guns would be bad on campus.
He created the 81-member Facebook page Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.
"There is no such thing as a gun-free campus,” Gaunder said. "The only people who will have guns are the ones who will do bad things with them.”
Gaunder supports the original version of House Bill 2513, which allowed any person with a concealed weapon license to carry guns on public campuses. He said CLEET training takes many weeks and is too expensive for most students. Gaunder and some other OSU students say they'll join a national demonstration during the week of April 21 and wear empty holsters to class to show their support for concealed weapons.
The gun bill has been opposed by Glen Johnson, chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, and many university presidents, including UCO President Roger Webb, a former state director of public safety.
"There's no place for guns in classrooms and laboratories,” Webb said. "I know that the proponents are well-intended, but I fear an unintended consequence.