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Two Rival Universities Might Agree in Guns On Campus Debate

The debate continues on whether faculty and staff on Arkansas college campuses can carry a weapon.
Arkadelphia universities Ouachita Baptist and Henderson State are known for their heated rivalry in sports. They don't always agree on everything. One topic the respective administrations do agree on however, could be the guns on campus issue moving through the legislature.

Just like the universities though, separated by a ravine, student bodies on both sides seem to be split right down the middle on the topic..

The debate continues on whether faculty and staff on Arkansas college campuses can carry a weapon.

With a combined 5,000 students in a town of only 10,000 people and taking up nearly 10 percent of the over-all landmass, the student's safety at HSU and OBU are top priority.

"... And allowing firearms on campus is not in that equation," said Henderson Chief of Police Johnny Campbell.

While they strongly support 2nd Amendment rights to bear arms and any legislation for that matter, Chief Campbell says allowing teachers to carry won't make their students any safer.

"This would deter our officers from the training that they've received."

In fact, a letter from the Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators says the members voted unanimously in opposition to the house bill that would allow a campus the option to allow faculty and staff to carry a concealed handgun. They sited the difficult and stressful decision making it would require on a officer in a campus incident involving weapons.

OBU already has their own policies in place.

"Simply because we are a private university," VP of Communications Trennis Henderson said explaining that their preference and tradition is not allowing firearms on campus. "[OBU] just feels real good about maintaining the status quo at this point."

OBU students Adam Dodd and Molli Flurry however, think it should be up for discussion.

Dodd explained his stance saying, "If they had a license for it I wouldn't have a problem at all."

Flurry said, "I feel like it could potentially make it safer."

Right across the street, Henderson's Student Government Association President, Phillip Turner doesn't like the idea of his teachers carrying.

"Personally I think it's a terrible idea," he said. "My biggest fear is that a teacher or professor just might snap."

Not all HSU students agree.

Sophomore, Stephanie Hartman is the News Editor for the student run newspaper, The Oracle.

"[Teachers carrying] could only help me if I was put into a bad situation," she shared. "I think it's something that should be addressed and something that students should be aware of."

Because of the differences in opinion, SGA President Turner says Henderson students will have a voice.

He explained, "If it's something that's affecting the school the students will find a way to make sure that the entire administration knows that this is what they do or do not like."

Until the bill, which passed the House Wednesday but still needs the Senate and Governor's approval, leaves the capitol, this debate in the college town of Arkadelphia will blaze on.

With the latest amendment, if/when the bill receives its final approval, the ultimate decision will still be left up to each school's board who will have to vote every year on the matter.
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