After having adapted over and over again to the constant changes of the past year, UM now has to update and enforce a new statewide mandate — but it isn’t related to the pandemic we are only just beginning to reach the other side of. Nope. The Montana Legislature’s new big project? The next thing MUS campuses need to devote time and funding to? Permitting firearms on Montana college campuses.
Gov. Greg Gianforte signed House Bill 102, which will permit open and concealed carry on college campuses, into law in February. And now, UM has to figure out a new set of regulations — regulations to allow firearms on campus. And they’ll have to be drawn up by June to comply with the bill’s mandates.
This legislation from Helena is irresponsible, polarizing and, frankly, unnecessary.
Protocols will have to be developed for students carrying and storing weapons in campus dorms. Student resident assistants will now be in charge of making sure that students are following guidelines for these protocols.
The University itself must create a rules system for monitoring students who have chosen to carry weapons on campus, and then enforce it. UM must also decide which events and places guns are prohibited and find security measures to enforce those regulations too.
In this week’s issue, we talk to the team in charge of this transition about what it will mean for UM students, especially when few other universities in the nation have developed plans for a law like this, and Montana is left to trial and error.
And we can’t help but be left to wonder why our RA friends need to add firearm de-escalation training to their summer activities, in between decorating their halls and making door name plates. Yep, just ~UM RA things~.
When Idaho implemented its concealed carry laws on campus, the university system estimated that it cost $3.7 million to implement security and protocol systems on campus. So far, Montana has only allocated $1 million to colleges in the state.
The truth is, funding and regulations aside, this legislation is dangerous.
We are furious that our legislature seems to be so involved in campus issues this year, but more than that, we’re angry about the potential harm and danger that comes with allowing guns on campus.
House Bill 102 puts students at risk and will take a toll on the mental health of one of the most mentally vulnerable populations by making campus an unsafe environment.
Students shouldn’t have to be afraid of someone shooting us while we’re getting lunch in the UC. RA’s shouldn’t have to worry that the drunk resident they’re asking to quiet down might have a gun. Faculty shouldn’t have to wonder which of their students are carrying guns they can’t see.
Not only that, but the funding that will have to go into the implementation of this bill is desperately needed elsewhere at UM (we can’t help but think of our friends in the College of Humanities and Sciences).
HB 102 seems, like many other bills that have come out of this session, like it was created to address a non-issue. The only problem is that this time, the bill carries with it the potential for much more unnecessary danger.
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