Despite State Law, Guns Still Banned For Most On Campus
By: Jade Tyra, Staff Writer
Many walking across the street from OCCC’s main campus may be visibly carrying guns strapped to their hips come November.
But, OCCC students, faculty and others will still not be allowed to bring guns to campus or carry them from class-to-class, without college permission, according to campus policy.
Oklahoma House Bill 2597, also known as permitless carry, will allow Oklahomans who are 21 or older to open-or concealed-carry firearms without a permit. This law may go into effect as early as Nov. 1.
However, campus policy No.1016 Weapon-Free Environment, which was enacted in 2007 states the possession of firearms on campus is strictly prohibited.
According to the policy, this applies to “all OCCC employees, students, and visitors, except authorized peace officers, regardless of whether an individual has a valid license to possess or carry a firearm.”
Many campus staff and students are in support of the policy, which is bolstered by a carveout in the 2019 legislation. The law allows campus presidents to designate who can carry guns on premises.
Jerry Steward, OCCC president, said OCCC is a weapons-free campus because “allowing non law enforcement individuals to carry guns on the OCCC campus does not enhance the safety of students, faculty, staff, or visitors.”
Steward says this policy is not only agreed upon by campus police, but also by staff.
“The overwhelming majority of faculty have indicated guns in their classrooms would make students and faculty less safe,” he said.
Don Spencer, president of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, does not agree with the college president’s decision to ban guns.
In an email statement, Spencer said the college policy needs updating and makes the college unsafe.
“The position of the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association is to repeal the dangerous no gun zone, so people have a chance to defend themselves”
College staff are also apprehensive about guns on campus.
Chiaki Troutman, World Languages and Cultures Center coordinator, said she has felt safe on campus for the past 10 years with this policy.
She said the debate about carrying guns on campus is not about if people should or should not carry them, “but I would feel very unsafe if they did.”
There are no metal detectors at building entrances and no security checks of vehicles driving on campus to ensure that students and others who might be carrying guns without permits don’t bring them into the buildings.
Some faculty say people shouldn’t have guns without permits, anyway.
“I don’t think guns are the answer, but I can understand both sides of the argument,” said Jeremy Fineman, professor of Visual Art and program coordinator.
Fineman said he believes individuals in possession of guns should be trained and licensed, and he does not agree with the permitless carry legislation.
Students Demand Action, a proposed student group who is filing paperwork with OCCC Student Life for approval as a campus club, is “a grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety measures that can protect people from gun violence,” said Taylor Eads, the president of the OCCC branch.
Eads said she advocates for common-sense gun laws and red flag laws. She also does not support the new permitless carry law.
The OCCC Leadership Council, recently renamed the Student Government Association, is led by April Galindo-Liongco. Galindo-Liongco has similar sentiments to Eads.
“I support the fact that we are a weapons-free campus. The reality is, seeing weapons out in the open can cause additional fear and stress to people.” Galindo-Liongco said.