Leslie Turk

House debating guns on campus bill

by Leslie Turk

A bill that would allow college students to carry guns on campus is expected to be debated by the full House today, where it will be opposed by at least two members of the Lafayette delegation.
"Making guns more available on campus is a knee-jerk reaction to recent tragedies," says independent state Rep. Joel Robideaux. "Although the person carrying the weapon may feel safer, having a campus full of guns does not provide the same level of comfort for teachers, students, and university employees and visitors."

In a story published Sunday in The Daily Advertiser, State Rep. Don Trahan, a Republican, also said he opposes the measure.

Despite objections from campus police, other law enforcement and higher education officials, the House Criminal Justice Committee voted 11-3 to allow college students to carry guns on campus. The committee members voting against House Bill 199 by Republican Rep. Ernest Wooten of Belle Chasse (the committee chair) were Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport; Roy Burrell D-Shreveport; and Republican Frank Howard, a retired Vernon Parish sheriff. Acadiana legislators voting for it were Elbert Guillory of Opelousas and Mickey Guillory of Eunice, both Democrats.

"I can only imagine how a faculty member would feel standing in front of class, wondering if any of the students were possessing a concealed weapon," Robideaux says. "The Legislature needs to consider the safety and concerns of everyone, and I will work toward getting this bill defeated."

The issue of allowing students to carry licensed, concealed handguns on campuses comes in the wake of college shootings across the country, including recent incidents at LSU, where two international students were murdered, and Louisiana Technical College in Baton Rouge, where the shooter killed two classmates before turning the gun on herself.