So This Guy Walks onto the UA Campus With a Gun on His Hip . . .


by David Safier

This afternoon, I attended a forum at UA about the legal aspects of guns on campus.

UA Police Chief Anthony Daykin explained the way guns on campus are handled now, and how they would be dealt with if Karen Johnson’s Guns in the Schools bill passed.

If Daykin sees anyone with a weapon at UA today, he confiscates the weapon and expels him/her from campus. Weapons are strictly forbidden. If someone calls to report a weapon on campus, the police respond to the possible threat in force. They locate the suspect and hope that either there is no weapon or that the person means no harm, but the police have to be prepared for the worst.

If Johnson’s bill is passed and signed by the Governor (I’m pretty sure the guns-in-bars law passed the legislator but was vetoed by Napolitano), people with concealed weapons permits could carry guns on campus. (You have to be 21 to get a permit, by the way, so that would leave out lots of undergrads.) And they can wear the gun in plain sight. They don’t have to hide it.

If someone calls the police, worried the person with the gun is dangerous, the police can get the gun and/or the person off campus (I don’t think they can confiscate it unless there is a genuine threat). But if no one calls, that gun on your hip is just fine so long as you have a permit.

So, if Dan, for instance, is walking along with a holstered gun on campus, are people going to get on their cells and call the police, or are they just going to say, “Looks like Dan is packing heat today”? I’m guessing Dan will continue his stroll without anyone reporting him. I just hope Dan and the hundred other students and profs wearing guns that day don’t have violent streaks and impulsive control disorders.

Would you want to be the professor explaining to Dan after class why he failed the last exam? I might feel a tad uncomfortable myself.

Now I’m sitting in my Elizabethan Lit class, and Dan is next to me, his gun hanging from a belt on his waist. He occasionally pats it during class (I’m one of those guys who regularly pats my side and back pockets to check for my keys and wallet, so I can understand why Dan might do that), or he fidgets with the gun in the same innocent way someone else is playing with a ring or a bracelet. I have to admit, I’m going to feel pretty unsafe. Chances are, my mind is going to wander from the Shakespeare sonnet we’re discussing at the moment. This is not an atmosphere that’s conducive to learning.

So do I call the campus police and tell them Dan makes me nervous? With guns prevalent on campus, probably not.

Am I proving myself to be a typical wimpy liberal by worrying about that gun? I don’t think so. If I say, “That guy next to me with all those tattoos makes me nervous,” that’s my problem. If I say, “That guy next to me with the gun makes me fear for my life,” that’s a whole different level of magnitude.

Here’s something else Chief Daykin mentioned. If the bill becomes law and he sees someone on campus with a weapon, he has no way of knowing if that student or professor (or complete stranger who wandered onto campus) has a permit. Daykin would have to decide who to ignore and who to ask for a permit. Tough call.


  1. There are good points raised in this article. It indicates a growing new level of fear imposed upon the public-particularly in the last three generations. In a suburban school near Cleveland, my father and his friends would bring their hunting rifles to school and place them in open wooden “lockers”. They were in middle school. Guns were checked in on planes as carry-on luggage and WWII surplus rifles were shipped virtually everywhere via mail order.

    The nature of violence seems to have changed as well. What could motivate an individual civilian to simply shoot a bunch of innocent individuals? Hate him or not, Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine” seems to come close to discovering an answer. There’s a different mentality developing in the U.S. It seems that one last desperate act could at least give you a front-page photograph. This trend could be as media inspired as the late 80’s rise in “gang violence”.

    Here’s a paradox – adults who did not grow up with a family of “shooters” that suddenly decide to buy a gun tend to be more dangerous than lifetime gun-owners. If you see a student that suddenly decides how cool it would be to carry a pistol around, I’d also be wary. On the other hand, citizens were granted this very important power as a defense against tyranny. I still believe early education about the dangers and discipline of gun ownership is a civic duty. But the 2nd amendment wil be threatened further without more honest, public discourse about what fuels this type of violence that took place at NIU.

  2. Mike, it sounds like you want to write the legislation yourself. You suggest teachers should have to wear their guns at all times if they bring them to school, and there should be no visible weapons on campus. I still disagree even if those stipulations were added to the law, but it would be an improvement.

    But unless you have a direct line to Karen Johnson and can convince her to incorporate your ideas, the bill, according to UA Police Chief Daykin, would allow visible weapons, and it says nothing about leaving a weapon in a purse, backpack, desk drawer, etc. So instead of just being a bill I disagree with, it’s a terrible bill I strongly disagree with.

    And by the way, I’m not afraid of men (or women) with tattoos, that was just an example of an unreasonable objection to raise about a fellow student, as opposed to the reasonable fear of a gun on a classmate’s hip. So go ahead, get those tattoos. Knock yourself out. It’s OK by me.

  3. I disagree, Michael. a CCW permit does not mean that the holder of the permit is stable or responsible. It just means he/she can shoot straight and has no criminal record. I see no reason for someone to carry a firearm with them on a college campus, law enforcement personnel excluded).

    Don’t forget that this law also would allow teachers, administrators and othe school personnel to carry weapons. It could also be interpreted to allow anyone with a CCW to carry their gun with them while visitng a campus.
    Scary, just plain scary.

    This is a bad law all around.

  4. Well, I do have a gun, though I had those full sleeves of scenes from ‘Klute’ lasered off years ago.

    I actually support the right to carry concealed on campus. I think that it should be the default position to allow citizens who have been background checked, trained and fingerprinted to carry the means to defend themselves and others. Unless there is a very good policy reason to preclude citizens from carrying concealed in a location, it should be allowed. I have never seen a convincing reason why carrying concealed on campus should be disfavored.

    David gives some possible reasons: a child could get the weapon (but not if personally carried at all times), it could disrupt the education environment (but not if no body but the carrier knows), and it could cause problems for the police (again, the trained holder of a CCW permit knows what to do in police encounters, you inform the officer you are packing, show your permit and offer to produce and surrender the weapon for the duration of the contact at the officer’s discretion – no problems).

    None of the these policy reasons hold up for CCW. Some may, indeed, be valid for open carry, but there is no legal reason why the legislature can’t ban open carry in some areas, but allow concealed.