For Immediate Release
Communications: (202) 898-0792
From Coast to Coast, State Lawmakers Categorically Reject Forcing Guns Onto College Campuses
Gun Lobby Loses 34 Bills in 22 States in Three Years; NRA’s Agenda to Hijack Universities’ Authority to Keep Deadly Weapons Off Campuses Squashed in Red States Such as Texas;
WASHINGTON - As state legislatures across the country gaveled their sessions to a
close, it signaled the culmination of a long, unanimous rejection of
one of the worst ideas in modern political debate - the notion that
state lawmakers should force colleges and universities to allow
students to take loaded, hidden handguns into classrooms.
All told, 34 independent efforts by the National Rifle
Association and Students for Concealed Carry on Campus to pass
guns-on-campus bills in 22 different states in the aftermath of the
Virginia Tech tragedy failed miserably, notably with even
ultra-conservative state legislative leaders who have been longtime
reliable allies of the NRA opposing the idea. And the broad opposition
included students and universities who felt under attack. The Campaign
to Keep Guns Off Campus, which is organizing a national coalition of
universities and colleges to reject the gun lobby's agenda, lists 90
schools in 23 states and counting. (See list of colleges: http://tinyurl.com/guns-off-campus).
But in fact, it was the students whose voices ultimately prevailed in
convincing legislators to reject guns on campus nationwide. Colin
Goddard, who as a student at Virginia Tech University in April 2007 was
shot four times, said that "the gun lobby used this event to further
its agenda of introducing guns into every aspect of American society,
adding now the learning environment. Instead, they could have
used this example of how a prohibited purchaser got his guns, not on
the streets and through the ‘black market' but at a local pawn shop and
over the internet, as a way of saying ‘Hey, our current laws we have
are inadequate and unenforceable'. It got students across the country
motivated and made us speak out."
Now that most legislatures have closed, some of the students say
they'll help join the fight to protect their colleges from one of the
worst sources of gun violence: the unregulated sales of firearms at
America's gun shows.
John Woods, 25, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, is a member of Students for Gun-Free Schools. Woods was a student at Virginia Tech during the horrific shooting tragedy that killed his girlfriend and 31 others.
"Keeping guns off of our college campuses is, of course, critical,"
Woods said. "But ultimately, students need to examine the root causes
of gun violence in America. One of those root causes is that it's
easier to buy a firearm than a car. An obvious way to protect
students and Americans in general is to keep guns out of the wrong
hands. Background checks on all private sales, particularly at gun
shows, do just that, and in these days of text messages and
out-of-pocket Internet access, that should be simple and inexpensive to
The gun show loophole allows people who are not federally licensed gun
dealers to sell firearms, at gun shows or literally out of the trunk of
their car, without requiring buyers to pass a federal Brady criminal
background check to determine if they are prohibited from purchasing
guns. Thirty-three states allow such sales without a Brady check by
so-called private sellers.
One of the key recommendations of the Virginia Tech Review
Panel was to require background checks on all firearm sales, including
those at gun shows. The panel wrote: "In an age of
widespread information technology, it should not be too difficult for
anyone, including private sellers, to contact [federal and/or state
authorities] for a background check that usually only takes minutes
before transferring a firearm."
"We need to do more to make it harder for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons," said
Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
"We know that in this fight, America's young adults can make the
difference between victory on this issue and continued delay."
"I think that many state lawmakers had to admit that America's college
campuses are among the safest environments for students because they do
not permit guns on their premises," said
Andy Pelosi, president of GunFreeKids.org and head of The Campaign to
Keep Guns off Campus. "College students are joining the fight for a
safer America and as history demonstrates, the important social
movements in our country have always been fueled by young people."
The following states have rejected bills this year, last year or in
2007 to force colleges and universities to allow students to carry
concealed firearms into classrooms: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas,
Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota,
Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South
Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
John Woods, Students for Gun-Free Schools, 703-801-2625.
Peter Hamm, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 202-898-0792
Andy Pelosi, Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus 914-629-6726
Ladd Everitt, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, 202-701-7171
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