College students could soon be able to carry guns on public campuses in Indiana.
Republican Sen. Jim Banks of Columbia City has introduced legislation
that would allow licensed gun owners to have firearms on campus.
The law has the potential to impact hundreds of thousands of students and staff at public universities, including Indiana University, Purdue University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Ivy Tech, Indiana State University, Ball State University, Vincennes University and the University of Southern Indiana.
The legislation would not apply to private colleges and universities.
Banks said he proposed the bill so that students could protect themselves, RTV6's Kara Kenney
"Almost every gun crime that's ever happened has occurred with people who aren't licensed," Banks said. "This is a constitutional issue, your Second Amendment gun rights."
Currently, universities in Indiana ban firearms on campus through their own policies.
Under standard campus rules, students could face sanctions and non-students could be banned from campus if they are caught carrying a gun.
Despite the standard policies, Banks said zero-tolerance of guns on campus is unconstitutional.
"These are taxpayer-funded entities, subsidized by you and I as taxpayers, and for college campuses to restrict gun rights on campus is just plain wrong," Banks said. "I think we're behind on this issue and we need to pass a law allowing students to carry guns on campus if they're licensed to do so."
Lawmakers in Wisconsin recently passed legislation to allow college students to protect themselves, but a similar measure failed to pass the Purdue University Student Senate in November.
Purdue student Zachary Briggs spearheaded the efforts to change university policies for students who want to carry guns.
"I carry a gun because I think it's important to protect yourself if something happened," Briggs said. We can look at crime stats and say it's not likely to happen, but your house isn't likely to burn down and yet you take out homeowners insurance."
IU Bloomington students said they had mixed reactions to the proposed bill.
"Alcohol plays a big role in people's weekends, and people using (a gun) responsibly will be an issue," IU Junior Taylor Liebert said.
"Ever since the disappearance of Lauren Spierer, I've been kind of scared (for my safety)," said IU junior Emily Johnston. "To have one for protection, I think it's a good idea. It's in our Bill of Rights, so I'd say go for it."
IU jjunior Jose Rivera disagreed.
"I think it's a ridiculous idea," Rivera said. "Guns are already dangerous. Why bring them to a campus where it's supposed to be safe?"
Other students said they would consider using less lethal methods of protection such as stun guns and pepper spray.
"I just don't believe people really need to carry guns around," IU student Casey Nemecek said. "I could see accidents happening."
Both Purdue and IU officials told RTV6 they were concerned about Sen. Banks' bill.
"Purdue and its students do not believe such legislation is in the best interest of public safety, Purdue spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg said.
IU spokesman Mark Land agreed.
"IU policy prohibits students, faculty and staff from having guns on campus, and we would have serious concerns with any legislation that would override our policies or in any way encourage firearms on our campuses or facilities, Land said.
Banks said he anticipated that the bill would be controversial, but said it's an important part of the campus safety dialogue.
"It deserves the debate," Banks said. "I hear from young women all over the state where this is an important issue for them."
to read Banks proposal in its entirety.
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