A new bill passed in March by Republican Sen. Mike Bell will give Belmont University the ability to choose who can carry a gun on campus.
The passed Tennessee legislation will allow private institutions to create carrying policies. A university can make a policy allowing all individuals with a handgun carry permit to have guns on campus.
Belmont’s official stance is gun policy on campus will not change.
“Our current policy is that weapons are strictly prohibited on university property and at university events,” said Pat Cunningham, chief of Campus Security. “That policy, which is intended to help keep our campus community safe, would not change under the legislation.”
Though Cunningham says this policy is intended for student safety, sophomore Ben Elkins said he would feel better protected were he able to carry. Elkins is licensed to carry a concealed weapon.
“If you were in a classroom, would you rather me be in there with you if a gun man came in or would you rather be with a bunch of unarmed students?” said Elkins. “When I go to class everyday, that’s something that goes through my mind.”
Some students may feel safer carrying, but senior Kyle Kirkman sees concealed carrying in a different light.
“There’s no way to differentiate someone who is authorized to have a concealed weapon,” said Kirkman. “It would cause more problems than it would eliminate.”
Though Kirkman is against students being able to conceal carry, he does see a middle ground in allowing Belmont Security officials to carry, he said.
For more information on the bill, visit the website of the Tennessee General Assembly here.
This article was written by Ragan Clark.