Honors College town hall debates statewide bill to allow concealed carry on college campuses

Will Jones

Monday night, students and adults crowded in the forum room in the Ferguson Student Center to hear a diverse panel discuss the topic of concealed carry on campus for The University of Alabama Honors College’s first town hall of the semester. 

State Rep. Mack Butler (R- Etowah County), author of the bill to allow concealed carry on college campuses in Alabama, defended his position. Adam Lankford, a professor of criminal justice at the University offered an opposing view. Maria O’Keefe, a graduate student at the University’s School of Law, and Joshua Shumate, a senior majoring in political science, joined Butler and Lankford to comprise the evening’s panel.

After a short video, Butler said Alabama shouldn’t ban firearms on campuses,and should instead advocate improved safety for students by allowing concealed carry. 

Butler went on to say he has left room in the bill for input and changes from institutions across the state. He repeatedly mentioned his support of a gun safety class that could be offered by colleges and universities across the state. 

Butler often said a sign saying “gun-free zone” does nothing to stop an assailant with a firearm.

Lankford was then allowed to offer his dissenting opinion. 

“There is no doubt that fighting an active shooter with a firearm is better than fighting them with a textbook,” Lankford said. 

He went on to note, however, that he simply doesn’t trust college students to carry concealed firearms. Lankford repeatedly noted the pendulum of emotions that college students often endure, and said large portions of populations owning guns and corresponding lower crime rates is “a solution we haven’t seen effective anywhere in the world.” 

Maria O’Keefe echoed Lankford’s beliefs.

“I feel, personally, safer not having more guns on campus,” O’Keefe said. “I would feel safer if we could use more funding to go towards ramping up UAPD.”

Joshua Shumate sided with Butler on the issue. 

“I just don’t see a reason for not having the ability to carry guns on campus,” Shumate said. “The logic behind the ban doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

The Honors College will be hosting town halls on political correctness as well as Education Inc. later in the semester. To keep up with events from the Honors College, check out their website here.