By: Savin Mattozi ~Staff Writer~
Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law on Dec. 19 that would permit universities and colleges to allow concealed carry on their campuses. The bill also allows concealed carry at day care centers, government facilities and non security-screened areas of airports.
The law downgrades offenses of individuals carrying firearms who are banned due to a felony to a misdemeanor.
Despite the change to state law, Xavier’s spokeswoman Kelly Leon said in a statement to the Cincinnati Enquirer that the school does not have any plans to change the already existing firearm ban.
Xavier joins other schools in the area like the University of Cincinnati and Miami University that also intend to keep current school policies banning firearms on their campuses.
The passage of this bill came just two weeks before a mass shooting at an airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where a gunman opened fire on passengers in the baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, killing five and injuring eight more.
This most recent attack sparked yet another debate on gun violence in a nation that has been plagued by mass gun violence in recent years. In 2016, 604 people were killed and 1,368 injured as a result of mass shootings, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which categorizes a mass shooting as an incident where four or more people are shot in a single instance.
“I support the university’s decision to keep the ban,” Hussain Tariq, a senior political science major and economics minor, said. “The university already has legitimate protective services for their students. Allowing people to carry firearms is unnecessary.”
In recent years, universities have seen their fair share of mass shootings. The most recent occurred on Oct. 1, 2016, at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., where 10 people were killed and seven injured. The worst mass shooting at a university in America occurred when Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 and injured 23 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, otherwise known as Virginia Tech., in April 2007.
With this kind of history of mass shootings, some students are cautiously optimistic about the university’s decision to keep guns off of campus.
“It makes me feel safer, but I don’t think it’s going to stop people from having guns,” Aichetou Waiga, a senior biology major, said. “Drugs are illegal, but people still have them.”
“With the recent racial bias incidences on campus, I don’t think that students of color would feel safe on campus knowing that people could carry guns,” Waiga said.
As Ohio now joins 24 other states where universities and other institutions can decide whether to continue bans on conceal carry firearms, the consequences of this decision are still unknown.