State Senator Jim Banks (R -IN) introduced a bold bill in the Indiana General Assembly back in January that has higher education administrators and liberal professors in a tizzy. Though the bill seems to have little chance of passing, it would require public Indiana campuses to allow students to conceal carry.
More than 370 college presidents across the country have signed an open letter urging Congress and other lawmakers to take action on gun-control measures, and opposing legislation that would allow conceal carry on campus. Three additional Indiana college presidents have signed the letter in the wake of the Indiana legislation.
“As a group, we do not oppose gun ownership. But, in many of our states, legislation has been introduced or passed that would allow gun possession on college campuses," the letter states. "We oppose such laws."
Though the bill was introduced in a short time after the mass shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, Banks said this isn’t the primary reason for introducing the bill. Rather, the bill was introduced after hearing the concerns of many students on college campuses who want to adequately defend themselves from the dangers surrounding them.
"Many female students who want to carry for their own protection, some of them have personal situations that they have told me about that cause them to take a very personal and emotional stance on this issue," Banks told USA Today
. "It's a matter of protecting themselves, and I take that very seriously."
One female student at the University of Indiana, Bloomington agrees with Banks and is particularly concerned about her own safety and the safety of her peers on campus. "I don't really believe in being a victim," Crayle Vanest, President of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, said. "I don't necessarily think you need a firearm to not be a victim, but I think being on an equal level with just about any level of force that can come up on you is the best."
Vanest also expressed that gun-free zones, such as college campuses, don’t keep guns away, they only keep guns out of the hands of students who want to follow the rules.
Vanest isn’t the only student fighting for the ability to conceal carry on campus. Sam Bain, the state-wide College Republican Chairman for Ohio is taking similar action on college campuses in Ohio.
“Over the next few months we have some targeted universities we want address with the issue of concealed carry. Ultimately, our goal is to have the state legislature pick this up and we plan on doing with a lobbying day at the statehouse sometime this spring."
And it won’t stop there. You can bet there will be more concealed carry on campus debates sprouting up in the coming months.