Guns on campus? Indiana bill could keep schools from banning guns

Jessie Hellmann

People carrying guns on campus could be a reality if a piece of proposed Indiana legislation is passed.

Indiana Senate Bill 0097 would allow the “possession and transportation” of weapons on state properties including state-funded universities and is up for consideration. If passed, all former university policies saying guns can’t be on campus would be null and void after July 1. 

Bill author Senator Jim Banks (R) said he had students in mind while drafting the bill. Banks said the bill “isn’t radical” and that Wisconsin has passed similar bills.

Last year Wisconsin legalized concealed carry at the same time University of Wisconsin-Madison banned guns on campus. The state legislation overrode the university’s policy.

The Indiana bill “prohibits a state agency from regulating the possession or transportation of firearms.”

The idea wasn’t created in the Senate but was created by a group of Indiana University students who wanted to express their right to protection.

“The students wrote the legislation,” Banks said. “I introduced it on their behalf.” 

Crayle Vanest, a member of IU’s Students for Concealed Carry (SCC) said there were collective concerns about personal safety on campus.

“The university controls what we can carry, when we have the right to have protection,” Vanest said. “Banks has worked with us on this and has been behind us for almost three years.”

SCC is a national organization composed of students, faculty and citizens from across the country that feel “holders of state-issued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses”.

USI does not have a branch of this organization. The current policy prohibits the “transfer, sale, use of, possession of weapons.” If the bill is passed, the university’s policy would be amended.

“Anytime a new law is passed, the university reviews such law and related university policies that may need to be revised for us to be in compliance,” said Dean of Students Angela Batista. 

“It’s my responsibility to work with colleagues and university administration to ensure that we are in compliance with any legal requirement, but always ensuring the utmost physical and emotional safety of the USI community,” she said.

French major Nathan Miller said he feels students are not ready to carry weapons.

“Young adults are more likely to get into arguments where the result could be the pulling of a weapon, and that’s not okay,” he said.