EMU debates concealed guns on campus

December 2, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Video

EMU Student government hosted a debate over propsed changes to Michigan’s Concealed Carry laws. Representatives from the NRA and the EMU Police department argued for and against the concealed carry of firearms on campus.

Advocating for concealed carry was Reid Smith, a member of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, and Professor David Coy, an accounting professor at Adrian college and a volunteer on the Board of Directors for the National Rifle Association. Coy arrived about 15 minutes late.

Arguing against guns on campus was Paul Leighton, a criminology professor at EMU, and Greg O’Dell, Chief of the EMU Department of Public Safety.

Just over 100 students, staff, visitors, and EMU police officers attended the nearly two hour debate.

Michigan law prohibits anyone under 21 to carry a concealed weapon. So a large number of EMU students would not be permitted to hold a concealed pistol license as they are too young.

Chief O’Dell said he was opposed to the possession of guns on campus as it would increase the rates of suicide. O’Dell said cops have an extraordinarily high rate of suicide because of easy access to guns.

According to NIH and the FBI, police officers are twice as likely to commit suicide as the general public. Leading one audience member to ask after the debate if perhaps EMU police officers should not be permitted to carry guns on campus.

Ann Arbor.com reported about one student who told the story, “My aunt was murdered by someone with a concealed weapons permit,” she said as her voice began to crack and she fought back tears. “Just because people go through these classes doesn’t mean they won’t kill someone.”

The student wouldn’t give her name and left before the debate ended. A student sitting next to her said the aunt was killed by a family member in their home. The murder apparently had nothing to do with the concealed carry of a firearm.

Under Michigan law and the Michigan State Constitution, concealed carry is currently allowed on the campuses of public universities except concealed carry in dormitories and classrooms. The EMU Board of Regents passed a rule against the possession of any firearms while on campus.

According to a recent ruling from Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox and the Michigan State Police, licensed concealed carry permit holders may openly carry a firearm into a pistol exclusion zones including dormitories and classrooms.

The carrying of a concealed weapon on campus can be confusing. During the debate, it was pointed out that off-duty police officers that are also EMU students have carried firearms into classrooms. This is apparently a violation of the Regents policy. According to the university no action has been taken against these students.

Moreover, an officer or CPL holder that drives to EMU and then safely stores their firearm in their vehicle is still in violation of EMU Regents policy while their actions are legal under state law. Michigan State University Regents addressed this confusion as they too had a complete ban on firearms.

In June 2009, MSU Regents changed rules to allow the carrying of concealed weapons in open spaces by licensed concealed permit holders while still barring firearms in buildings. According to MSU spokesman Kent Cassella, “The rules were changed to better align with county and state law.”

Lansing’s Statenews.com reported, “At the University of Michigan, guns still are completely banned, with the county prosecutor enforcing the ban, (MSU Trustee Colleen) McNamara said. She said the prosecutor who handles crime on MSU’s campus did not prosecute people who violated MSU’s ordinance, instead siding with state law and prompting the board’s vote to change policy.”