In a recent policy change, the University of Texas-Austin will now allow students with concealed handgun licenses to carry their guns into classrooms. Gun control is a hot-button issue throughout the country, one that has affected many students and universities in recent years.
In light of related events throughout the nation, students gathered to discuss gun control at Activities Council of Bradley University’s (ACBU) Crossfire event Wednesday night.
Dakota Zamora, a junior community wellness major, said he believes students need to be more educated on proper gun policies.
“I think that with any policy regarding guns, there’s always going to be major controversy,” Zamora said. “Personally, I think having more educated people with firearms out there – arming the ‘good guys,’ is what it comes down to – is never a bad thing, but I understand there’s some hesitance with arming college students.”
Bradley’s gun policy differs vastly from UT-A’s, and Illinois remains one of the 19 states where concealed weapons are banned on campuses by state law.
In fact, Bradley policy states “No weapon may be possessed on Bradley property or in a Bradley vehicle. No Bradley employee may possess a weapon when acting within the scope of their employment.”
To warn students that weapons are not welcome on campus, signs are posted throughout Bradley property, resembling the common “no smoking” signs, but instead feature an image of a gun.
Bradley University Police Department Chief Brian Joschko said while many private universities don’t have full police departments, Bradley’s full department is in place to ensure a safe campus.
“[Bradley] has a fully certified campus police department, which is a pretty substantial commitment to making sure we have a safe environment,” Joschko said. “All the things that we do … our Hilltop safety cruiser, the Crime Prevention Officer … are commitments to making sure we have a safe environment.”
Students played a game at Crossfire that involved everyone in the room being asked to move to separate sides of the room depending on whether they agreed or disagreed with a statement regarding gun control. They also discussed the recent armed robbery in CampusTown.
“I thought [ACBU] were very smart about how they asked the questions, and the order they asked the questions in,” Joschko said. “One of the questions they asked was, ‘How many of you have ever held or fired a firearm?’ and it was split 50-50, which was interesting after having watched where the people were on the different sides of [the issues].”
Students in attendance discussed how safe they felt on Bradley’s campus as well.
“I think the only time I’ve ever felt threatened at Bradley was last semester, when there was someone in a neighborhood who was seen with a shotgun,” Zamora said. “But campus went on lockdown immediately, though, so I knew there was no chance of me getting into any situation. No matter where I go, even at night, I feel safe.”
For more information on the BUPD and their policies, visit www.bradley.edu/police/.