Administrators uphold Student Code of Conduct in response to gun control laws

By Madi Alexander, Web Editor

Gun control has become a major issue across the nation. Oklahoma legislators have introduced nearly 30 bills relating to firearms during this legislative session.

Sen. Ralph Shortey (R-Oklahoma City) has written a bill permitting concealed and openly carried handguns on elementary and secondary school property, provided the owner is licensed pursuant to the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act.

Gun owners are permitted to carry firearms on some campuses in Oklahoma.

Weapons are only permitted on campus with the permission of the university president. Firearms are permitted in locked vehicles on CareerTech campuses.

The Oklahoma Statutes state that firearms are forbidden on public university property, but those laws do not apply to private campuses, said Liz Donnelly, dean of students.

“Private campuses don’t have the same obligations to follow state laws that apply to public campuses,” Donnelly said. “That’s an administrative issue.”

Students are prohibited from possessing handguns, rifles and shotguns on university property, including in a motor vehicle or on-campus residence, according to the Student Handbook 2012-13.

“We do not allow any weapons at all,” Donnelly said. “It’s a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, and any student that’s found with a weapon that’s against our policy is given due process like any other student.”

There are no predetermined consequences for possessing a firearm on campus.

Students found to be in violation of this rule are given due process in accordance with Article IV of the Code of Conduct, Donnelly said.

State law allows certain firearms in certain situations to be stored in vehicles on campus.

Despite the university’s policy, this means that firearms in vehicles on campus are legal in certain situations, said Lyndel Harris, chief of police.

“Weapons are allowed by state law in vehicles on campus,” Harris said. “If a person had a concealed-carry permit and wanted to keep their weapon in the vehicle, that’s allowable.”

Firearms, including shotguns, rifles and handguns, may be transported, open and unloaded, inside motor vehicles on university property, he said.

Any person, except a convicted felon, may openly transport an unloaded firearm in a motor vehicle at any time, according to Oklahoma Statutes.

This applies to vehicles on university property, Harris said.

Students and professors have differing opinions on permitting firearms on campus.

Students should be able to exercise their constitutional rights on campus, said Mitch Thrower, finance/economics junior.

“We have carry licenses, and I don’t see why that shouldn’t transfer over to campus,” Thrower said. “It’s legal everywhere else, so when we’re unarmed here, we’re a bunch of victims.”

Thrower said he does not own a handgun or a handgun license, but he intends to obtain them soon.

Richard Johnson, chairman of the political science department, said he does not think guns belong on campus.

“I believe in Second Amendment rights, but that we should have reasonable restrictions on access to firearms,” Johnson said.

Larry Cobb, history professor, said he absolutely does not think students, professors, or administrators should carry weapons on campus.

“I thoroughly agree with the idea of no firearms on campus,” Cobb said. “Arming teachers is a hideous idea.”

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