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Arizona legislature OKs guns on campus

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The fact that the Arizona bill was narrowed down to public passageways is a relief to gun-control advocates, who still oppose the bill but would be even more concerned if it allowed weapons into classrooms and dorms.

“This is one of those issues [where] parents of college students, law enforcement, students, and administrators are standing up and saying ‘No,’ ” says Brian Malte, director of state legislation at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington.

Since 2007, 45 attempts to allow guns on campus have been made in 24 states, and so far, all have failed, Malte says. He expects advocates to push again to allow guns in campus buildings in Arizona next year.

In Texas, two Senate Democrats who had originally supported the guns-on-campus bill withdrew their support this week after being bombarded with opposition from constituents and college officials.

“Anything that gets weapons closer to college students is a dangerous proposition,” says James Alan Fox, a Northeastern University criminologist and author of “Violence and Security on Campus.”

Alcohol use and depression among college students increase the potential for violent outcomes, he says, if weapons are introduced into the mix.

Homicides are rare on campuses – an average of fewer than 20 a year nationwide – which counters the argument that guns are needed for self-defense, Fox says. Even if there is an attack, “in the heat of the moment, most gun owners are ill-prepared for such a panic situation,” he says, and having attackers and victims both drawing guns would make it harder for police to intervene.

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