Indiana lawmaker proposes bill that would allow guns on public college campuses

Sponsor says bill would deter mass shooters

INDIANAPOLIS - Legislative leaders are bracing for a number of gun-related bills, both to expand gun rights and restrict them, in the wake of the Newtown killings.

One state lawmaker says Hoosiers should be allowed to carry guns on college campuses.

Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, says it would help students and faculty members feel safer. 

The bill would apply to all public university campuses, but not to private schools, and it would allow anyone who already has a license to carry a gun to keep that gun while on campus.

"They carry that gun anywhere else they go,” said Banks, the bill's sponsor. “When they go to the grocery store, as they go to and from work. Yet they're told that because they're a college student, they can't carry that gun. In many cases for women who have very specific reasons to carry for their own protection and are told they can't do that."

Banks said in addition to letting students and faculty feel safer on campus, the bill would deter potential mass shooters.

The bill follows in the footsteps of a recently enacted law allowing Hoosiers to keep guns in their cars at work, even if their employers forbid it. 

A student organization has sprung up to support the bill, but many of the students and faculty RTV6 talked with on the IUPUI campus opposed the idea.

"I think it is silly to have weapons that can actually cause damage to other people," one commenter said.

On the other side of the argument, one IUPUI commenter said, "I think people should have guns to protect themselves."

The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus made its opposition to the bill clear on Tuesday.

"We don't want to get to the point where we're going to be extreme to the point where we're going to start trampling on people's rights, everyday people who might not be members of the ERA...or the NRA," said Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago.

Banks said that college administrations strongly oppose his bill.

Senate leader David Long has assigned it to the Rules Committee, which means it's unlikely to get a hearing.

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