Student Senate’s Wednesday meeting was a continuation of the debate surrounding Senate Bill 199, which allows universities the option to recognize concealed carry on campus.
Senate members and concerned students discussed many points supporting and disagreeing on whether the Ohio University Board of Trustees should take action regarding this bill. One of the recurring points senators brought forth was the legality and safety of guns in a party environment.
Parker Smith, Government Affairs Vice-Commissioner, spoke about his interactions with students as a former resident assistant.
“We constantly deal with irresponsibly drunk people, even people over the age of 21,” Smith said. “I doubt they will carry the gun with them all the time, but they lose things all the time. I don’t trust the people who live next to me to have a weapon.”
OUPD Chief Andrew Powers, who was in attendance to discuss how guns and the law intersect, answered many questions from senators and members of the audience. He told the gathered body guns are allowed in bars, but no one can carry a weapon when under the influence. He also spoke on how mental illness is handled with handguns.
“The Ohio Revised Code prohibits people who have been adjudicated ‘mentally ill’ from holding a firearm,” he said.
Other people in attendance brought up the need for defense, including College Republicans’ President David Parkhill.
“The Crime Prevention Research Center that says 98.4 percent of shootings have occurred in gun free zones,” Parkhill said. “People don’t even know the rules are changing, and those who do are people who are concerned.”
He went on to connect the two, saying those with malicious intent would not be likely to check the law but those who wanted to preserve and protect would be likely to follow through with legally carrying a concealed weapon on campus.
Specifics on how concealed carry permits would be enacted on campus are still murky. Whether they would be allowed in dorms was mentioned many times, with people on both sides of the debate, as well as speculation as to how faculty would feel about having armed students in their classrooms.
Senate is holding a referendum online starting Jan. 23 at 9 a.m. and closing on Jan. 24 at midnight, with the results reported the following night at Student Senate by Clouser. Senate will then vote for themselves and factor in the student votes.
The Senate body also voted on a resolution to fund five members to attend the Ohio Student Government Summit at the University of Akron, passing it unanimously.
Student Senate meets weekly on Wednesdays at 7:15 p.m. in Walter 235.