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March 23, 2009

ULM president and campus family stands firm in opposition to HB27

University of Louisiana at Monroe President James E. Cofer formally accepted three resolutions from ULM faculty, staff and students expressing overwhelming opposition to legislation that would allow registered concealed weapons on Louisiana’s college campuses if passed.

Cofer took aim at House Bill 27 on Monday, saying it would create an “untenable situation” for the campus community if it became law.

The bill was recently re-introduced by state Rep. Ernest Wooton, R-Belle Chasse, who promised to “be back” following the failure of similar legislation last year after running into serious opposition from higher education officials across the state.

Cofer said that though the goal of the bill may to reduce the risk of a shooting on campus by allowing individuals to defend themselves, the bill would likely make a campus crisis even worse. He said increasing the number of firearms on campus violates the “sanctum for learning” that the university represents.

Donna Rhorer, reading from the Faculty Senate Resolution, emphasized the rarity of campus shootings and said those armed but not trained as marksmen might even create more harm than good if others were caught in the crossfire.

ULM Student Government Association President Micah Pulliam read the SGA Resolution, which stated outrage over violent incidents at other college campuses in recent years.

Pulliam said the SGA had discussed the pros and cons of HB27 at great length, but the conclusion was that the measure would have a “chilling effect” on the recruitment of highly-qualified students, faculty and staff, and would place Louisiana’s institutions at a distinct disadvantage since only one other state has approved such a measure.

“People don’t really understand how stressful college can be,” he said. “Guns just don’t belong in the classroom.”

Susan Duggins, chair of the ULM Staff Senate, read the third resolution opposing HB27. That resolution reiterated that trained law enforcement personnel should be the only ones to handle crisis situations on campus.

The bill was filed before the 2009 regular session that convenes April 27.

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