House passes bill allowing guns on campus


Katie Wiles-Community News Service

Students will be allowed to carry firearms on public college campuses under a bill that passed, 63-3, on the House floor Feb. 4. House Bill 1261 is designed to give college students their second amendment rights, according to the bill’s sponsor Rep. Thomas Brunner, R-Nisland.

“We’re not suggesting that students carry guns. We’re clarifying the law that says these college students are adults and have the same rights as all citizens,” Majority leader Rep. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center said.

Joel Dykstra, R-Canton, also supported the measure. “What we’re talking about is a fundamental principal of the American constitution,” he said.

Rep. Richard Engels, D-Hartford, agreed but said that all constitutional rights are subject to regulation. This regulation should only be done by the legislative body rather than higher education institutes, he said.

Despite the majority of the floor supporting the bill, there were some safety concerns.

“I’m concerned with the accidental shootings,” Rep. Bill Thompson, D-Sioux Falls said. Many deaths are the direct result of firearms and adding alcohol to the situation, which often happens on campuses, makes for even greater danger, Thompson said.

According to Rep. Larry Lucas, D-Mission, this bill isn’t the answer to safety concerns.

“We’re all concerned for the safety of our campuses. We should instead see a crisis plan on our campuses,” Lucas said.

The bill now moves to the Senate for approval.