By: Julia Hall – Staff Writer
House Bill 48, a new piece of state legislation, passed in the Ohio House of Representatives, 63-25, in November. The bill is currently being debated in the Ohio Senate. If this bill passes, both public and private universities would be permitted to choose whether or not policies would allow concealed weapons to be carried on their campuses with the proper permit.
Amidst the debate of House Bill 48, recent events on the University of Dayton’s campus have brought discussion of security to the foreground. According to the new University of Dayton emergency notification system, on Thursday, March 31, at 1 a.m., “A female student reported a male grabbed her and showed a knife in the area between the Chapel and Kennedy Union.” A masked robbery of El Rancho Grande restaurant, which occurred on Jan. 24, marks another incident near campus this year.
Furthermore, on Apr. 3, Public Safety sent a campus-wide email to report that at 2:30 that morning a student “was approached by a male bearing a knife” in a parking lot behind a business on Brown Street between Irving Avenue and Brown Street. Then, “the suspect told the student to give him what he had in his pockets.” The student fled the scene unharmed, and UD and City of Dayton police officers were unable to locate the suspect.
In response to the March 31 incident, SGA President Mike Brill said, “I think that if that individual had a gun [instead of a knife], not knowing the full details of that situation, then there could have been a different outcome to that situation. [The student] may not have been able to escape unscathed.”
“Personally, I believe that if students were allowed to carry guns on campus, then campus would be less safe,” Brill stated. “Part of the problem is not necessarily that students would be carrying guns on campus, but that people outside the university would potentially be allowed to carry guns at campus.”
Despite recent crimes, some students feel campus is a secure environment.
College Republicans President Elaine Laux, senior political science and criminal justice major, said, “I think, although I cannot speak for every student, that we live on a pretty safe campus. A lot of us keep our doors unlocked during the day.”
“I think I have seen a trend that people tell you that security is that much more of an issue, and I certainly think we have seen some higher profile cases this semester,” Brill said.
In a broader sense, if House Bill 48 passes in the Senate, the question still remains whether UD would change their policy. The university is declining interview requests on this subject. However, university officials did state, “The University of Dayton does not permit firearms on campus. If the pending bill becomes law and changes the rules, we will assess our policy at that point.”
According to UD’s 2015-16 Student Handbook, “Possession and/or use of any item that could be perceived as a weapon which could include but is not limited to knives, explosives, dangerous chemicals, guns, pellet guns, bb guns and/or any item that could be perceived as a gun (i.e. replicas or the insinuation of a gun) is prohibited.”
Brill believes that the university will continue with their current policy of prohibiting the presence of guns on campus.
“I would personally say, not having talked to anyone about this, but just knowing the people at Public Safety and the people of the university administration and members of the Board of Trustees, I could not see university actually allowing [guns] even if the House Bill 48 did pass,” Brill commented.
Laux, meanwhile, focused on the significance of the university being able to choose whether or not concealed and carry would be permitted on UD’s campus.
“I would say it is more so about the ability of schools to make their own decisions regarding the issue,” Laux suggested. “So, I think it is really important that whether schools enact it and allow students to carry, I think that the administration in Toledo, or Cleveland, Dayton, or Cincinnati knows what is best for their school.”
“They know what the atmosphere is like on campus and they are able to do what is best for their school,” Laux said. “I think that the Republican Party is a party of liberty and freedom, and I definitely think that this could open more doors for freedom at a local level.”
College Democrats did not respond to multiple requests for an interview.
For updates on this bill’s effect at UD, follow @FlyerNews.