The National Rifle Association and students who favor carrying guns on campus for protection will hold an event at the University Center on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
The NRA’s university outreach arm and Students for Concealed Carry, a University of Memphis student organization, hope to discuss the Second Amendment and expanding carrying guns on campus — a highly controversial topic which many are against, including U of M officials.
“Threats to personal safety don’t disappear once you step on campus,” said Catherine Mortensen, NRA spokesperson. “Criminals do not abide by gun free zones. Gun free zones make law abiding citizens sitting ducks for criminals.”
Campus carry laws, like the ones in Colorado and Mississippi, generally allow people who have valid state-issued gun permits to carry firearms on a college campus.
Mortensen said that people who have carry permits are more law abiding.
The discussion to legalize concealed weapons comes after an increase of mass shootings in the United States, some of which took place on college campuses.
The most deadly shooting occurred on the campus of Umpqua Community College which resulted in nine injuries and nine deaths, including the shooter who committed suicide.
In the wake of the shootings President Obama made executive orders that could potentially amount to more regulation on the sales of guns in the country.
However, critics of campus carry laws say that bringing guns to campuses could increase violence and accidental deaths.
“We are opposed to guns on campus, except in the case of highly trained public safety personnel,” said Bruce Harber, chief of campus police and assistant vice president of administration. “This position is shared by our colleagues across the state.”
“Firearms in the hands of untrained (or minimally trained) individuals can lead to bad decisions and tragic consequences,” said Harber. “We have a zero tolerance stance on weapons on campus and we think that has been a factor in our low crime rates in the last seven years.”
The state of Tennessee currently prohibits firearms of any kind on campus. However, members of the SCC hope that it does not stay that way for long.
“We believe that holders of stateissued concealed handgun licenses should be allowed the same measure of personal protection on college campuses that current laws afford them virtually everywhere else,” said Stuart Dedmon, President of SCC.
Dedmon insists that campus carry supporters do not want to take on the responsibility of protecting those around them. Instead, what is being suggested by supporters is that adults with concealed handgun licenses be allowed to protect themselves on college campuses.
According to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, the state of Tennessee requires background checks for anyone buying a firearm from a licensed firearm dealer.
The NRA U meeting hosted by Students for Concealed Carry will take place from 4-5:30 p.m. on Feb. 3 in the Shelby Room in the UC.