Student governments in UNC system oppose gun legislation

Jul. 18, 2013 @ 08:45 PM

WINSTON-SALEM — Eleven student governments in the University of North Carolina system have signed a proclamation opposing legislation that would allow concealed weapons permit holders to store handguns in locked vehicles on the system's campuses.

The student leaders agreed to the proclamation Tuesday night and announced it on Wednesday.

The proclamation was signed by student body presidents at Appalachian State, East Carolina and North Carolina Central Universities; also signing were, UNC Asheville, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, UNC School of the Arts, Winston-Salem State University and North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.

Robert Nunnery, president of the UNC system Association of Student Governments, also signed the proclamation.

In addition to the proclamation, Appalachian State student body president Dylan Russell sent a personal letter to House and Senate members expressing concerns with the bill.

"I am confused as to how this bill will improve security on campus for students, faculty, staff and other community members," Russell wrote. "I do not understand why the present laws in place for possessing a handgun do not suffice. Ultimately I do not feel that it is within the university's best safety interests to allow a handgun in vehicles on campus."

Nunnery said that Russell spearheaded the efforts when the Council of Student Body Presidents met last weekend. Russell said he believes in strength in numbers and knew he needed to get the other UNC system schools on board.

"As we stand together, and whatever comes our way, our hope remains the same - let no person ever say that the student body wasn't willing to ripple the waters," he said.

Lobbyists for UNC and private colleges have previously raised concerns about the bill, which is currently in a conference committee.

UNC President Tom Ross has said previously campus leaders and police chiefs are worried that allowing weapons would increase public safety risks and hamper their ability to protect people on campus. Ross said that vehicle break-ins are a leading crime at schools and guns could fall into the hands of the wrong people.