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States debate laws allowing guns on college campuses

By Anastasia Subervi
States debate laws allowing guns on college campuses
Several states are moving to allow guns on college campuses. Constantine Pankin/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- One of the hottest debates on campus safety is working its way through legislatures in 10 states - whether guns should be allowed on the grounds of public and private colleges and universities.

Some 41 states ban the carrying of concealed weapons on campus.

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But as campus crime, especially sexual assault, grabs headlines, many supporters of allowing guns argue it will improve safety. Proposed laws are working their way through statehouses in Florida, Nevada, Indiana, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. Four states have already passed law allowing guns on campus: Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Mississippi.

Amanda Collins, who testified to Michigan lawmakers about being raped while attending the University of Nevada in Reno, supports allowing students to carry guns.

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"My case is a perfect example that despite law enforcement's best efforts to ensure our safety; they are unable to be anywhere at once," Collins testified.

Collins was raped at gunpoint in 2007 in a campus parking garage.

Due to recent crime scenes in Florida Colleges and Universities, the Florida state Rep. Greg Steube, recently submitted a bill, which explains that campuses would be removed from the list of prohibited places to carry guns.

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"If you've got a person that's raped because you wouldn't let them carry a firearm to defend themselves, I think you're responsible," Florida state Rep. Dennis K. Baxley said.

Students' opinions on the issue are divided.

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC), with more than 43,000 members, argues that students have a right to protect themselves.

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Opponents argue more guns on campus will increase crime and make college life more dangerous.

"Having access to guns only increases the chances of an innocent person being hit, versus actually hitting a target or a person who's trying to stalk you," Jamira Burley, a member of the Gun Network Violence, told the BBC.

The American Association of States Colleges and Universities (AASCU) has argued that even with the intention of self-defense, guns make a situation more dangerous and result in injuries.

The Keep Guns off Campus campaign, which was founded in 2008, encourages universities and colleges to oppose the bills allowing concealed firearms on campus. The group believes colleges and universities should instead look for ways to prevent violence.

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