Proposals in the state Legislature to allow guns on college campuses prompted Executive Vice President Jerry Steward to address professors at a recent Faculty Association meeting Oct. 28.
“For six years in a row we have been able to defeat bills that would allow people to carry loaded weapons on campus, with the exception of our police officers,” Steward said.
“This year, there’s going to be a concerted effort to pass a bill that will allow people not only to have concealed weapons, but to have open carry on our campus.”
Steward said those who oppose the bill are going to have to maximize their efforts if they’re going to have any success at all.
“It’s becoming increasingly difficult for us to make our case in the state Legislature … ,” he said.
President Paul Sechrist said he does not support a change in the law, which allows OCCC to prohibit weapons on campus.
Nevertheless, Sechrist said, if the bill were to pass, OCCC would have to comply.
“We would probably look at our options to see what we could or could not do,” he said.
“It might be difficult to do anything that would look as if we’re trying to circumvent the law, as we would be required to comply.
“I, along with all the other college presidents in the state of Oklahoma, are strongly opposed to a change in the law that would allow students, faculty, staff, or guests to carry weapons on the grounds or inside the buildings,” he said.“I don’t feel like it would add to the safety of our campuses. In fact, it would make it less safe.”
In an email, Steward said it would be a major mistake to allow concealed weapons on campus.
He said virtually no one in a position of leadership responsibility in Oklahoma public colleges and universities supports allowing carrying concealed weapons on campus.
“There is no scenario by which allowing persons to carry concealed weapons on campus makes us safer,” he said. “In fact, the opposite is true.
“ … Every campus police department in the State of Oklahoma is opposed to allowing carrying guns on campus.
“Every president of an Oklahoma public college or university is opposed to allowing carrying guns on campus.”
Sechrist said having a highly trained police force on campus that is skilled in handling crisis situations is a safer approach.
“Studies that have tried to re-create emergency situations with many people having firearms who are trying to help, but these re-creations actually show that having more guns makes the situation worse — including accidental firing of the weapon and innocent people being shot by mistake,” Sechrist said.
Steward said he has the primary responsibility for the political work for the college and spends a lot of time at the legislative sessions.
“It’s getting more and more difficult every year — very, very difficult circumstances,” he said. “Even when we got a couple of votes last year from some state representatives on the guns, it was a tough vote for people.”
Steward said he may email the faculty and staff asking for help if it comes down to a close vote.