Campus leaders, university attorney react to proposed concealed carry bill

Posted on Feb 9 2018 - 7:58am by Jeanne Torp

Since the Mississippi House of Representatives voted Wednesday to pass a bill allowing concealed carry in certain places, like college campuses, university leaders are adding to the conversation.

The recent conversation first gained traction on campus after an Associated Student Body committee proposed the idea of allowing concealed carry on campus in a January meeting.

ASB Sen. Coco McDonnell, chairwoman of the External Affairs Committee, introduced the idea of campus carry at the suggestion of her committee members.

However, the proposal will remain just that unless the state Senate passes the bill and with a signature of the governor, it becomes law.

“Until something is passed on the state level, there is absolutely nothing I (and other senators) can do to make this happen on campus,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell said she would expect varying opinions should the bill come to fruition on campus.

“If this is ever to be implemented on campus, I see it having just as much opposition as it does support,” she said. “I feel it would have very mixed opinions from everyone in the Ole Miss and Oxford community.”

ASB President Dion Kevin said he believes that no matter which side a student favors, ASB will be “in favor of any measures which enhance the student experience, including safety measures.”

Perry Sansing, interim general counsel for the university, said if the bill becomes law, Ole Miss will have to follow the law.

“If the bill doesn’t become law, I believe Ole Miss’ current policies (concerning campus carry) would remain in effect,” he said.

Sansing said safety is the university’s main focus right now.

“The university’s major priority is always going to be attempting to maintain safety and security for students, faculty, staff, and guests,” Sansing said. “That’s always going to be a priority for the university, regardless of what law is in place.”

After the bill passed through the House, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter released a statement asking state leaders to consider the negative implications this bill could bring.

“If this bill were to pass, it would negatively impact the University of Mississippi’s ability to continue to uphold the safety and security for our students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors on all our campuses — the Oxford campus, our regional campuses, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center,” Vitter said in a statement.

Right now, the Institution of Higher Learning has a policy prohibiting guns on its campuses, but the bill passed through the House would override that.

With the development of House Bill 1083, ASB is planning to discuss a possible resolution at its Senate meeting Tuesday.

“Sen. Belle Aspinwall proposed that we support Chancellor Vitter’s statement through a resolution,” Freshman ASB Sen. Katie Dames said. “The resolution itself isn’t changing Ole Miss policies about carrying firearms on campus. … It is showing solidarity with our administration.”