On July 1, 2016, a new law allowing full time faculty and staff, who are not enrolled as a student in any courses on campus, to carry a concealed handgun on campus took effect.
It is a safety precaution, but it truly does benefit every student on campus. It seems that every time the television is turned on, the media depicts horror stories of the lives of innocent bystanders taken away because of a mass shooting. So why not have more protection on campus?
Any faculty or staff who wishes to carry on campus must have a Handgun Carry permit and handgun on their person at all times, and must be able to show it when asked by the Department of Safety. To obtain a permit, they must pass a background check which includes having committed no criminal activity, being of strong mental health and being a citizen of the United States. Also, each permit applicant must have completed the Handgun Safety Course, which teaches them the safety precautions and proper handling of firearms.
Every carrier must register their weapon with the Police Department on campus or risk facing legal consequences for carrying on state university grounds without permission. Every faculty member carrying a firearm will be anonymous. Unless their firearm is being used, they should keep it concealed at all times.
The legislation specified that if there is an accidental misfire, the consequences would affect only the owner of the handgun. There are specific locations on campus grounds where firearms are not welcomed, including the Student Health Clinic, childcare facilities, university sponsored events, disciplinary or tenure meetings and other areas where no weapon signs are posted.
I strongly believe that this is one of the greatest renovations to UTM this year. Arming the faculty and staff will bring a greater sense of security to everyone on campus. Even though statistically gun violence is lower than it has been in years, it never hurts to be prepared just in case something were to happen. Think of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Marysville, Delta University, Tuskegee University and so many more. Think of how many lives could have been saved if more people had been armed and ready to take action.
We can hope and pray that it will never happen to us, but if it does, we need to be prepared.