California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation placing a ban on the ability to carry a concealed handgun at colleges and schools.
Firearm restrictions in the state are among the strictest in the nation. Current state law does not allow firearms to be carried within 1,000 feet of a school or on college campuses without written permission from administrators. However, those who held a concealed carry permit were exempt.
Senate Bill 707 extends the current ban on school and college grounds to also include concealed weapons. Carried firearms would still need to stay at least 1,000 feet away from school grounds and college campuses. In addition, if those who do hold a carry permit and are found with so much as a single round of ammunition on school grounds they will be held criminally liable.
The law does not apply to active or retired law enforcement officers.
The controversy over allowing guns on school grounds has gained prominence nationwide. While supporters say students may be able to help reduce the number of mass shootings and rapes, critics argue that allowing firearms onto campuses along with young adults, alcohol and mental health issues may create problems, reports Alexei Koseff for The Sacramento Bee.
Many who oppose the law, arguing that it is not guns that are causing problems, but the people who possess them.
“Anyone can take a look at the problem and realize it’s not the gun. And it’s almost a cliche in my business to even say that. I feel bad for saying it, but it’s true. It’s not the gun,” Ted Lidie, Senior Instructor with Northern Firearm Instruction, explained.
However, those who support the bill, such as Amanda Wilcox, Legislation and Policy Chair for Brady Campaign California Chapters, feel that during a school shooting, extra guns will only add confusion and risk to the situation, reports Madison Wade for KRCR.
“It is difficult to know if an armed person at a shooting incident is a ‘good guy’ or the ‘bad guy’ with a gun. Clearly, limiting hidden, loaded guns on campuses is in the interest of public safety. Numerous law enforcement organizations within California agree,” Wilcox explained.
California is now the 20th state to ban firearms on campus. It is still legal in eight states, including Oregon, which recently saw a mass shooting by a gunman at Umpqua Community College last week, who killed nine people before taking his own life.