UNC officials concerned about gun bill
University officials expressed concern Monday about a state House bill that would allow gun owners to store concealed weapons in their cars on university and community college campuses.
UNC President Tom Ross said Monday in a statement that House Bill 937 would increase the risk to public safety and make it tougher for campus police to protect students, staff, faculty and visitors to the 17 campuses of the UNC system.
“The potential for tragedy far outweighs any potential benefit or convenience to concealed-carry permit holders,” Ross said. ‘We encourage the General Assembly to remove the provision that would allow guns to be brought onto UNC and other college and university campuses.”
The bill is sponsored by 27 Republicans and one Democrat. It passed a House committee last week.
Jeff B. McCracken, director of public safety at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said the bill, which is intended to promote safety, would actually make campuses less safe.
“The thousands of vehicles parked at UNC-Chapel Hill are among the targets for break ins, and I’m concerned this legislation would increase that frequency,” McCracken said. ‘As a result, criminals would have access to more guns.”
Ross also said the fact that some campuses offer early college high schools and summer camps for children is another concern.
“The presence of these young people further heightens our concerns about the safety risks that come with guns getting into the wrong hands,” Ross said. “Moreover, when responding to an armed robbery or active shooter incident, our officers would often be hard pressed to distinguish between a criminal suspect and well-intentioned bystanders with weapons drawn, particularly in the heat of the moment.”