A bill has been proposed to Florida’s legislature to allow guns on campus. However, with recent tragedies, such as the Oregon shooting at Umpqua Community college, permitting guns on campus seems it will aid campus shootings verses ceasing them.
President of Florida A&M University Elmira Mangum supports the State University System’s decision to prohibit guns on campus.
“Like Florida’s elected leaders, the State University System and FAMU have a deep commitment to campus security,” Mangum said. “As we work to provide the support and services that will provide the best safety measures for our students and campus community, we encourage Rattlers to take advantage of the various safety programs and offerings set in place by the FAMU Department of Campus Safety & Security.”
FAMU Chief of Police, Terence Calloway, strongly disagrees with the bill. He thinks it will cause more harm than help.
“It’s going to change the way we police,” Calloway said. “If someone calls us now and says ‘Hey there’s a man walking now with a gun on the set,’ we’re going to respond. But now the response is going to be, has he pulled it out on anybody? Is he threatening anybody?”
FAMU’s police department houses 35 police officer, and went through more than 4,000 hours’ worth of training this year alone. Calloway explained that most crimes on campus involving guns are spontaneous.
“When your feelings get escalated you don’t think rationally,” says Calloway. “So when you have a fight or argument with somebody in your dorm room and you know you have a gun, what do you think will be his first thought?”
There have been 262 school shootings, on high school and college campuses, sense 1999. This year alone has had 22. According to Calloway, allowing guns on campus may eliminate a student’s decision to call a higher authority to solve conflict.
“With students with guns a lot of crimes are, they’re spontaneous in a sense,” said Calloway. “I feel that you have to trust the people that you’ve given the power to protect you. A gun, to me, gives a person a different sense of urgency, kind of a tough person mentality.”
Information Technology student, Melanie Mitchell, from Atlanta, GA., thinks that allowing guns on campus will make students more hesitant to interact.
“FAMU is known for its FAMUly environment, allowing guns on campus will make students paranoid and scared to be friendly with anyone,” says Mitchell.
The FAMUPD offers ways for students to be safe on campus. LiveSafe is a new app the department is promoting that allows for students to monitor other students. They also offer Rape Aggression Defense classes (RAD) for females to protect themselves. The police department also encourages students to call them at any time.
“Nobody calls us to say hi, we feel left out sometimes,” Calloway said. “But if you call and say hey my name is such and such. I’m leaving the library headed to palmetto, or where ever you’re going, to the police, we will stay on the line until you get there. That’s what we are here for.”
To find out more information on FAMUPD and their services visit Famu.edu/publicsafety.