Emma Boyle

Almost every year, the Tennessee State Legislature introduces a bill calling for students to have the ability to carry concealed weapons on campus. The bill never passes, but time and energy are expended not only by the Tennessee legislative members in writing it, but also by the UT Advocacy Office and students in lobbying against it.

The current proposal, announced last week, can be found here.

In July 2016, Tennessee law TCA 39-17-1309 gave University of Tennessee System employees the right to concealed carry on campus, provided they were not enrolled in classes and that they did not carry during university-sponsored events, in medical service buildings or in tenure or discipline discussions. Employees must register with the University of Tennessee Police Department before carrying on campus.

In response to the proposal of the bill in spring of 2016, the University of Tennessee Knoxville Faculty Senate surveyed faculty attitudes concerning the bill and the idea of guns on campus. 42% of faculty responded, with varying attitudes.

There are divided opinions at our school about whether people should be able to carry on campus. Some students support being allowed to carry guns on campus because they hope it will decrease crime. Alternatively, others argue that preventing students to carry on campus violates their Second Amendment rights.

Most students and parents, however, strongly oppose the idea of guns at UT. One of the leading arguments against campus carry is that college students, who consume a large amount of alcohol and drugs, and the majority of whom do not have fully developed brains, have neither the environment nor the maturity to be trusted to consistently make safe decisions while carrying a gun.

If you believe that any prohibition of guns on campus is a violation of the Second Amendment, consider this. James Madison, who wrote the Bill of Rights (including the Second Amendment), cofounded the University of Virginia with Thomas Jefferson. In a board meeting before UVA opened, they banned the carrying of guns on campus or in other sensitive areas.

If the ones who championed the Second Amendment were concerned about guns on their college campus, we should be too.

Emma Boyle is a senior majoring in political science. She can be reached ateboyle1@vols.utk.edu.

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