SGA president voices concern over bill that would allow concealed guns on UNC system campuses

Michael Bragg

Ten student body presidents in the UNC system, including Appalachian State University’s Dylan Russell, and the president of the Association of Student Governments sent a proclamation through Appalachian’s Student Government Association in opposition to House Bill 937 on Wednesday.

The proclamation addressed to the North Carolina General Assembly is in response to HB 937, a proposed amendment to firearm laws, which would allow firearms to be concealed in vehicles on campuses of higher education institutions if the owner has a proper license. This bill would amend Section 14-269.2 of the North Carolina General Statutes, which currently prohibits concealed weapons on such campuses.

“The Student Body Presidents believe that concealed handguns would detract from a healthy learning environment; that more guns on campus would create an additional risk for students; that shooters would not be deterred by concealed carry permit holders; and, concealed carry permit holders are not required to have law enforcement training,” according to the proclamation.

Tom Ross, president of the UNC system, opposes the bill as well, according to the proclamation.

“Ross said ‘all UNC chancellors and chiefs of police believe allowing guns on campus would increase the risk to public safety and hamper our ability to protect not only our students, staff and faculty, but also campus visitors including parents, siblings of students, and summer camp participants,” according to the proclamation. “Vehicle break-ins are one of the leading crimes on college campuses, and even guns brought lawfully onto campus as contemplated by this bill, could fall into the wrong hands and result in serious injury and death.”

Russell sent out his own letter of concern to the General Assembly and stated in the letter that he does not support the bill.

“As a student of Appalachian, I feel safe when walking around on campus,” according to the letter. “My peace of mind is constantly reaffirmed by seeing the police officers that work diligently to ensure my safety as well as my constituent’s safety.”

In support of his argument against HB 937, Russell stated in his letter that he is also concerned about tailgating “as guns and alcohol consumption will be mixed together” and believed that in light of recent tragedies related to gun violence, the bill would “offer a gateway for such instances to occur on our own campus.”

Russell’s letter stated he believes current gun laws have kept Appalachian safe and that the university will remain safe if HB 937 does not pass.

“My administration and myself stand behind the Chancellors of the UNC system, the President of the UNC system, the Police Chiefs of the UNC system and the municipal Police Chiefs in opposing this provision in HB937,” according to the letter. “We respectfully ask that the General Assembly remove this provision from the bill during conference.”