Gun bill does not provide specifics for safety


Editorial Board

The Issue:While the Senate State Affairs committee effectively killed the bill, House Bill 1261 isn’t dead until session is over. Even then, it could come up again.

The Stance:While The Collegian supports the Second Amendment, HB 1261 is not enforceable or safe.

During the 2008 legislative session, the Board of Regents introduced legislation that would ban firearms from all public university campuses. In response, some lawmakers introduced opposing legislation that would allow firearms on all public university campuses. Since then, the Feb. 14 shootings at Northern Illinois University have sparked further debate as to whether or not college students should be allowed to keep guns in their cars, residence hall rooms or carry them to class.

While The Collegian is a strong supporter of freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights-without freedom of speech and of the press we wouldn’t exist-as well as the need to feel safe, we do not believe it is in students’ best interest or safety to keep a firearm in their dorm room or to add a gun to the list of items we take to class religiously.

Right now, firearms are banned from most national parks and monuments, some state capitols (including South Dakota) and other governmental buildings, all American airports and all public K-12 schools. This Second Amendment right is already regulated at several public institutions because of an increased need to protect large groups of citizens, and public universities are no different. While stopping a gunman before he claims any victims is an ideal goal, adding more guns to an already volatile situation is asking for more bloodshed from crossfire and law enforcement officers who are trained to shoot first, ask questions later. Isn’t it a better plan to catch the one person who is carrying a gun illegally before any shots are fired?

If HB 1261 does pass, anyone who carries a weapon is required to possess a concealed weapons permit, but who, other than a University Police Officer, is going to ask to see their permit? In South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska, you aren’t eligible for a concealed weapons permit until you are 21; in Iowa and North Dakota, you have to be 18. Whose law will we enforce? What law will be used to regulate firearms in residence halls?

The Collegian does believe students who hunt should be allowed to keep their firearms on campus. A storage facility located somewhere open and monitored 24 hours a day on campus, like the University Police Department, would be a safe and regulated option that would give many HB 1261 supporters what they want-to continue to be allowed to hunt easily.

Students deserve to be treated like full citizens, with all the rights guaranteed to us by the United States Constitution, but until the uproar has settled and rational thought returns, allowing firearms on campus without a sound plan for regulation and registration is an accident waiting to happen.