University System Applauds Senate Action to Not Act on "Guns on Campus" Bill

University System Applauds Senate Action to Not Act on "Guns on Campus" Bill

FEBRUARY 8, 2012 – Presidents and administrators across the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) applauded the action of the New Hampshire State Senate as they voted send HB 334 to interim study, effectively killing it. The legislation, if approved, would have prohibited public colleges from banning firearms on campuses and also prohibited banning firearms from facilities such as Verizon Wireless Arena, Fisher Cats Stadium, the state hospital and state-owned buildings at the Pease International Tradeport.

Currently, public colleges and universities set their own policies regarding firearms on campuses and do not allow them for public safety reasons.  Despite hearing testimony from campus presidents, public safety officials and other concerned citizens, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted in favor of the bill in late January.  The Senate action taken today makes it highly unlikely that the bill will come up for a vote in the Senate this year.  

“Adding deadly weapons into a culture where impetuous behavior can sometimes take place is, in my opinion, unwise,” USNH Chancellor Ed MacKay said during the House hearing on the bill. “College years are among the most volatile periods in a person’s life, and if guns are present it is far more likely there will be incidents on campuses.”

Many public safety organizations actively opposed the bill and newspaper editorial boards expressed their concern about the legislation as well.  A February 3 editorial in Foster’s Daily Democrat stated the following: “It is not in anyone’s best interest to have the state determine the firearms policy for its universities.  Those universities are far more in tune with the nature of their campus community and can make a more informed decision.”

Governor John Lynch vowed to veto the bill if it reached his desk.  "These bills represent a radical departure from our approach to public safety here in New Hampshire," he said. "New Hampshire is a place with very little violent crime, a place where families and seniors can feel safe in their homes, their neighborhoods and their communities. We need to be doing all we can to continue to ensure New Hampshire remains the safe state that it currently is."