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Campus carry bill worries educator

Coined the “Campus Carry Bill,” Assembly Bill 148, passed the state Assembly with a vote of 24 – 15 on April 1.

The legislation will allow students, faculty or visitors with a concealed carry weapon permit to bring firearms onto a college campus.

The bill, which received overwhelming support from Nevada lawmakers and local representatives Sen. Pete Goicoechea and Assemblyman James Oscarson, is being staunchly opposed by state and local educators.

Mark Curtis, president of the Great Basin Community College, which has a satellite campus located in Pahrump, responded to the passage of the bill saying that if the bill is signed into law by the Gov. Brian Sandoval, that it would do more harm than good.

Not only is there a provision that currently allows concealed carry weapons on Nevada college campuses, he said, but opening the door for additional firearms in an educational setting, with young adults is troublesome. Curtis cited potential accidental discharge of a firearm as a primary concern.

Additionally, he said if there is an active shooter incident on campus, the chances of a person with a concealed carry permit to react to, or even be in the same proximity as the shooter, would be rare.

The idea that more guns on campus would make the campus safer, is a fallacy, he said.

Las Vegas Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, who introduced the bill, disagreed. The passage of the legislation, she said in an emailed response, was the first step in making college campuses safer.

“Allowing persons with a concealed carry weapon permit to carry on campus serves as a deterrent for would-be criminals as they do not know who may be carrying a firearm.”

The bill was inspired by the story of a college student who was raped within 300-yards of a campus police station in 2007. The student, a state Assembly press released Monday, was unable to carry a firearm due to campus prohibition.

Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said she favored the premise of the bill.

“I believe responsible citizens should be able to defend themselves and others, no matter the setting,” she said.

The Nevada higher education system and the Board of Regents will have the law, if passed, analyzed to see how Great Basin College campuses might be able to implement its components, according to Curtis. There have been no incidents involving firearms on a Great Basin College campus during his tenure over the past three years.

The bill, amended from its original form, would allow for a firearm to be secured from view in vehicles on campus, excluding school buses.

The bill was read in the Senate for the first time yesterday, and forwarded to the Judiciary Committee.

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