Bill could prohibit universities from banning firearms

Jessie Hellmann

Guns on university campuses and other state-owned properties, like courthouses and government buildings, could soon be a reality if a bill sitting in the Indiana House of Representatives passes.

House Bill 1018, authored by Rep. Jim Lucas (R-69), would prohibit state agencies, including state-supported colleges and universities, from banning firearms on land or buildings owned or leased by the state.

“I just basically wanted to try to get the state back in the position where it respects peoples’ natural right to defend themselves, and I want to decriminalize self-defense,” Lucas said. “We can have all the laws on books (banning firearms), but bad people will do bad things.”

If passed, the law would void any policies a state agency has regarding firearms on its property as of July 1.

USI’s firearms policy bans the transfer, sale, use of and possession of guns on campus, with possible disciplinary action held to those who break the policy.

Lucas said the law wouldn’t make campuses unsafe but would actually make them safer.

He used the Virginia Tech Massacre as an example – an event that left 33 dead at the hands of one gunman.

“It was a tragic shooting on a campus, and all were unarmed, and all were unable to defend themselves,” Lucas said. “I’ve spoken with far too many people, particularly educators, who are left defenseless in positions like this.”

He said his constituents show support for HB 1018.

“People are waking up to the fact that they’re the ones following laws, and what we keep hearing are gun-free zones are target rich environments for people,” he said. “The state constitution even says that the people should have a right to bear arms for defense of self and state. It’s already in the laws, it’s just throughout the years, that right has been infringed upon.”

The bill currently awaits action in the public policy committee.

A similar bill failed to pass through the senate the past two legislative sessions.

Indiana Senate Bill (SB) 0181 in 2012 and SB 0097 in 2013, both authored by Sen. Jim Banks (R-17), aimed to allow those with the valid license to carry firearms on state properties.

Both bills died in committee.

USI Vice President for Government and University Relations Cindy Brinker said the university doesn’t support the legislation’s goal of keeping universities from making its own firearms policies but said it won’t do anything to formally oppose it.

Brian Anslinger, a senior business administration and marketing and finance major, said he believes those who possess a license to carry should be allowed to do so on college campuses.

“How often have you heard of a shooter stopping at the edge of a college campus instead of proceeding on their shooting spree because they weren’t allowed to have guns on campus?” he said. “Criminals don’t care about the laws.”

Anslinger said he is licensed to carry but has to leave his handgun at home when he comes to campus.

“Carrying a gun doesn’t make you irresponsible or dangerous,” he said. “I don’t carry a gun for situations I can see coming or avoid. I carry a gun for those situations that I can’t avoid at all.”

Senior accounting major Donald McGrath said he thinks allowing guns on campus would be dangerous.

“It’s a great thought, but we would see an increase in accidental shootings on campus – that’s something I don’t want to see,” McGrath said. “Most, if not all, schools have campus security. Licensed and lawful gun owners or not, we don’t need guns on campus.”