University of Tennessee students, staff mixed about guns on campus law

“Our position has been and continues to be that we do not support, as a general premise, any measure that would increase the number of guns on college campuses other than already are allowed by law," says UT President Joe DiPietro.

The University of Tennessee- Courtesy of WATE

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Monday, a bill passed without Governor Bill Haslam’s signature, that allows guns on public colleges or universities.

The controversial bill is one that a lot of people feel very strongly about and there has been a lot of confusion about what the new actually allows. To carry a gun on campus you must:

  • Be a full-time employee at the school
  • Have a valid Tennessee handgun carry permit
  • Conceal your gun at all times
  • Tell law enforcement on campus that you plan to carry

Even with the restrictions, the university itself is not in favor the new law. University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro said the school’s position was and still is that it does not support having more guns on campus, beyond what the law already allows. He said the university would have preferred the decision be made by the board of trustees.

DiPietro said the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, as well as the Tennessee Board of Regents, has already worked on amendments to maximize safety. They were able to add the language about notifying campus police.

Previous story: Guns on campus bill becomes law without Haslam’s signature

In a survey that allowed University of Tennessee employees to speak anonymously, there are a handful of comments in favor of the law. One said “I would feel more comfortable being able to have a concealed weapon on campus,”

However, a vast majority of the comments in the survey are against the change. One faculty member wrote “the only reason to be armed on campus would be able to neutralize an active shooter. That requires the kind of training that sworn police officers have and that most carry-permit holders do not.”

More than 40 faculty comments said if the bill passed they would consider leaving the university to work elsewhere. Also, in one of the statements in the poll that reads “allowing guns on campus is in the best interest of the campus community,” almost 87 percent said they “strongly disagree.”

More: Read the full survey

Still, some students said they would feel safer knowing that if something where to happen, they would have protection.

“Any time that you bring a gun into any place, you’re going to bring awareness to yourself and make people feel on edge, but it’s our constitutional right too and I believe in that,” said Kristina Robinette, an employee at the University of Tennessee. She said she is comfortable as long as people are trained in using their guns.

Others employees, like Tom Anderson, said allowing his co-workers to carry guns makes him feel nervous. “A college campus is not where weapons need to be,” he said. “I feel like this should be a gun free zone.”

Copyright 2016 WATE. All rights reserved.

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