As the nation mourns another tragic school shooting, Gov. Jerry Brown is considering legislation that would ban concealed carry of handguns at colleges and schools in California.
The mass shooting last Thursday at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon marked the 45th school shooting in the U.S. so far in 2015. This trend has rapidly become a grave issue of concern for students of all ages, including those on college campuses.
Firearms are generally prohibited on college campuses in 48 states, 39 of which specifically forbid concealed carry, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
“I feel like a college campus is one of the safest places to be,” English senior Madison Rightmire said. “There are always lots of people around, sometimes there are security people — I don’t see why someone would need a gun.”
California is already known for having the strictest firearm laws in the country. Last year, it was the first state to allow families and police to temporarily remove weapons from those considered at risk of violence.
California is a “may issue” state, which allows local law enforcement to issue its own limitations on where a person can carry their concealed weapon.
Currently, the law states that guns are prohibited on college and university campuses under the Gun-Free School Zone Act.
The exceptions to this rule are officers and armed guards and people with concealed carry weapon (CCW) permits from the state. People with special circumstances can also be granted permission by the president or his designee — like a history teacher bringing in a World War II rifle to class for an exhibit.
The proposed Senate Bill 707 would prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons on school and college grounds by people with CCW permits. Brown has until Oct. 11 to act on the measure, which was approved in early September.
According to a Sacramento Bee article by Alexei Koseff, the idea for the bill came from university and college police who think school officials should have more control over campus safety.
“Concealed handgun permits, which require residents to show ‘good cause’ that they are in immediate danger, are handed out by county sheriffs, who vary in their interpretation of the policy,” the article states.
CCW permit holders are not required to inform the campus, and the campus cannot legally require them to report their possession of a concealed weapon, Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier said. This means that Cal Poly has no record of who is carrying a gun on campus with a CCW permit.
“I just don’t see why anyone would have a need to have a gun on campus,” communication studies senior Jaymee Huggins said. “If there is a need, then that’s something you should contact the police about so they’re aware of your situation. The police should know more about you personally if you’re carrying a gun on campus.”
The San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) determines whether someone receives a permit. They have to show they are “good-standing moral character,” according to the department’s website, which requires that the police perform background checks on that person’s history of violence, crime and mental illness.
Within San Luis Obispo County, someone further has to show a need or cause for a permit. A reasonable cause could be if they were receiving threats to their life.
Cal Poly has seen a few gun-related incidents. In February 2013, the UPD confiscated a rifle from Sierra Madre Residence Hall. During the first week of the following fall quarter, a student died when he shot himself inside a house near campus. That November, a former football player was shot because of an alleged drug deal gone wrong.
“I think the most important thing is being able to identify the problem before something bad happens,” electrical engineering senior Ben Stone said. “Getting people help would definitely assist the situation.”