University police chiefs lobby against guns on campus

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PHOENIX -- University police chiefs from around Arizona are lobbying against the movement to allow guns on college campuses.

Chiefs from Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University met with the Board of Regents Thursday in Tempe.  They stood united against the bill, which is again making its way through the legislature.

"More guns does not equate to a safer campus," said ASU Police Chief John Pickens.

"I have a great appreciation for guns, but I've seen tragedies occur when people didn't handle guns properly, or made bad decisions about the use of firearms," said UA Police Chief Anthony Daykin.

"You're going to have accidents where people are going to get hurt," said NAU Police Chief Gregory Fowler. "You add [guns] to that mix of youth, alcohol, drugs, and it's a terrible mix with handguns."

ASU President Michael Crow has said he fears a scenario in which a gunman enters a lecture hall, and several gun-toting students start firing at him at once.

It's an argument the bill's sponsor, Sen. Ron Gould of Lake Havasu City, dismisses.

"It's a straw argument," said Gould at the Capitol on Thursday, "You don't see it happen in Starbucks. You never see someone whip out a gun and have a battle."

Gould's push to allow concealed weapons in campus buildings began after the Virginia Tech shootings.

"Had someone there been armed, he could've intervened in the situation," Gould said. "These students have the individual right to protect themselves, and we, as the government, should respect those rights."

A similar guns-on-campus bill, which Gould calls the "Student Protection Act," passed the House and Senate last year, only to be vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer. Gould says he's changed some of the language, and hopes she'll sign this year's version.

Still, Gould says the Board of Regents will get the final say. Even if his bill becomes law, the board could still decide to ban guns from campus buildings.