Let universities make own rules for guns in cars

A bill to allow guns to be kept in cars on college campuses, introduced to the state legislature by Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, threatens the autonomy of universities and does not deserve to pass.

This legislation, House Bill 114, would be a departure from a current state law that allows universities to make their own policies regarding firearms on university property.

Damron correctly stated in a Kernel article on Wednesday that this is an important subject and that those in opposition to his proposal should not take it lightly.

It’s an important issue — and Damron’s stance on it is wrong. His legislation is an inappropriate attempt to micromanage universities’ safety policies, and it would raise security concerns of its own by allowing deadly weapons on campuses.

The bill would take away power to write policies regarding firearms from individual universities and give it to the state instead. The universities should be allowed to retain the right to govern issues that are relevant to the campus environment, including whether or not students and employees may have guns stashed in their cars.

To take away this right would not only go against existing legislation, but it would also create a landslide of potential openings for the state to regulate other issues on college campuses that were formerly decided by the university. The balance of power should be left alone.

Furthermore, the bill stands in opposition to the wishes of many of people whom the bill would affect most directly: students, faculty and staff on university campuses. As UK Student Government President Nick Phelps stated, no complaints have yet been raised regarding the ability of students to store weapons in their car. Those who support the bill should voice their opinions not to the state, but to university representatives, such as Phelps.

Nor is the bill necessary to improve the safety of students on campus. If anything, the acceptance of guns anywhere on campus, whether in parking lots or in classrooms, is a hindrance to student safety.

Ideally, a campus free from guns will have no chance for altercations involving shots fired. While many feel that they should be allowed to have firearms in their cars, the potential for the increased endangerment of non-gun-carrying students far outweighs any protection that a gun may afford.

Those who are concerned about their personal safety in parking facilities or anywhere else on campus should employ alternatives such as self-defense maneuvers and pepper spray.

And those who insist on having weapons in their cars can take advantage of the many opportunities to park off campus.