A Republican state lawmaker in New Hampshire endorsed guns on college campuses on Monday, saying in an email to fellow legislators that "gun-free zones become killing zones."
State Rep. Mark Proulx (R-Manchester) came out in support of the bill, which was favored by the House criminal justice committee, in response to an email to legislators from two community college leaders urging the defeat of the legislation. The bill was introduced earlier this year after Republican takeover of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. The measure allows the state legislature to govern all firearm regulation in the state, taking away power from other private and public entities.
Wildolfo Arvelo, president of Great Bay Community College, and Nancy Pierce, the college's advisory board chairwoman, wrote that the bill should be amended to allow the state's community college system and the University of New Hampshire to set gun policies on their campuses. The letter, which was sent out by email early Monday afternoon, was addressed to state legislators representing Rockingham and Strafford Counties.
"In testimony, college and university security personnel, including a former New Hampshire police officer and a member of the New Hampshire state police/major crimes unit, emphasized the dangers in eliminating current restrictions on gun possession on a college campus," the administrators wrote. "Thousands of young people attend New Hampshire's colleges, sharing close quarters in residential, social, academic and other group activities. At this age, judgment and behaviors are still being developed and tested. To the best of our knowledge, presently in New Hampshire every private and public college bans firearms."
Arvelo and Pierce listed nine specific reasons why they wanted the college exemption, including fears that professors would not be able to do their jobs -- and possibly give low grades -- if they were worried about their students being armed. Another reason included concern that armed students may respond to situations on campus, potentially causing issues for campus security officials, and the fear that drunk students could accidentally shoot others.
Proulx "replied all" to the email with his own response late Monday afternoon, addressing the college advocates as well as the legislators on the original message.
"For people that are supposed to be so smart, you never learn from history," Proulx wrote from his state email account. "The history lesson you should have learned is that gun free zones become killing zones. These killing zones are the places that crazy people who are looking to make a name for themselves go."
Proulx continued, saying he believes that allowing guns on campus would stop violent incidents.
"Not to mention when these incidents happen there were people there that could have stopped the killing early on but could not," he wrote. "They could not because they were following some ridiculous law or rule that would not allow them to carry the weapon they wear every day."
Proulx, a first-term Republican and former Nashua fire lieutenant, said he would be supporting the bill to prevent the creation of "another killing zone."
Utah, Mississippi and Wisconsin are the only states that allow guns on college campuses. Texas and Arizona both considered similar bills earlier this year, with Arizona's legislation passing both houses of the state legislature before being vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer (R). In Texas, the bill passed the state Senate, but stalled in the House after state Rep. Mike Vilarreal (D-San Antonio) blocked it on a procedural issue.
Wisconsin's campus gun law allows for guns to be carried on college campuses, but allows academic institutions to enact bans on carrying guns in buildings. The University of Wisconsin, for example, has enacted a ban on bringing guns into university-owned buildings. The bill was signed by Gov. Scott Walker (R) over the summer.
In September, a state appeals court in Oregon overturned the Oregon University System's regulations prohibiting guns on campuses. The ruling -- which the university system is not appealing -- does not change rules prohibiting guns from classrooms, dorm rooms and other indoor facilities.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) issued an advisory opinion earlier this year, saying that private colleges bans on weapons are easier to enforce than public college ones as public universities are owned by the state. The Virginia Senate voted down a bill earlier this year to allow guns on campus. In January, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld a gun ban at George Mason University.
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