The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga administration joins higher education leaders across the state in opposing a bill that would allow more people to carry guns on campus, contributing to unsafe conditions for students, faculty, staff, and visitors.
“We consider our responsibility to provide a safe campus environment among our top priorities. Campus law enforcement and law enforcement leaders from across Tennessee have said more guns on campus would not make campuses safer. In fact, the presence of more guns could increase the danger level to students, faculty, staff, and visitors to our campus,” said UTC Chancellor Roger Brown. “The University of Tennessee has repeatedly stated opposition to allowing anyone outside law enforcement to carry guns on campus.”
HB 2016 is currently before the Tennessee House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday. The bill would allow faculty and staff with handgun carry permits to bring their guns to campus. Current law prohibits anyone, even handgun carry permit holders, other than law enforcement to bring weapons to campus.
Higher education leaders have joined police forces statewide and the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police in opposition to this proposal.
“From a law enforcement perspective, having more people with guns on campus increases the risk for a situation to occur and decreases safety,” said UTC Police Chief Robert Ratchford. “Police officers are trained to handle situations. To have others get involved in a situation only complicates matters and raises the risk of injury.”
Faculty and student government organizations have also opposed the bill.
“As a faculty member at UTC, I can assure you that I feel quite safe with the current level of security and protection afforded by our campus police in coordination with city police, and therefore do not feel that arming students or faculty would do anything except complicate security,” said Dr. Victoria Steinberg, Professor of French and President of the UTC Faculty Senate. “Adding more guns without coordination of training will create a greater threat to campus security.”
Read the student resolution opposing the gun control bill here.
Campus police leaders, campus officials, students, and faculty members plan to attend the committee meeting on Tuesday.