Over the years, those state legislators who favor allowing students and faculty to carry guns on college campus here have made a two-fold argument: It would make colleges safer and it’s just a natural extension of Second Amendment rights.
Both arguments have been widely contested. College presidents here have overwhelming argued allowing guns on campus would actually increase the chance for campus violence, and it’s debatable whether the Second Amendment should prevent the government from instituting basic, common-sense laws about where weapons can be carried.
But the results of a recent quarterly SoonerPoll question add another important dimension to these arguments. The results show that Oklahomans overwhelming don’t want faculty and students to carry guns on campuses, which obviously calls into question the constituent support for proposed legislation that has tried to make it happen in recent years.
The lopsided results, which came on a question I submitted on behalf of SoonerPoll, have to be a surprise to many Oklahoma politicians on both sides of the issue. The results show that 73.5 percent of those surveyed indicated they don’t want an armed and ready-to-shoot college student body and professoriate. Only 19.6 percent of those people who participated in the poll said students and faculty members should be allowed to carry guns on campus.
For those who support sensible gun rules and laws in the state, the results are simply a Kevin Durant-like slam dunk and a testimony to basic common sense. What’s more, there is majority opposition to the idea of guns on campus in the poll among Republicans (68.9 percent), Democrats (78.7 percent) and Independents (64 percent).
The question itself was straightforward: “Should Oklahoma college students and faculty members be allowed to carry guns on campus?” The clear answer from Oklahomans: No.
A committee passed House Bill 2087 this session that would, among other things, allow administrators and faculty to carry guns on campus unless the college president instituted rules to prohibit it. It appears dead. But will this or similar legislation make it to full floor votes this year or next, and will Gov. Mary Fallin then make our campuses armed bastions by signing it into law? The poll results should give Republican legislators, who have sponsored guns-on-campus bills, and Fallin at the very least a momentary pause in their Second Amendment political zeal.
A bill did pass in the legislature this week that would allow people at Career Tech campuses to keep guns in their locked cars as long as they have a concealed weapons permit. The vote in the House was a staggering 75-5 in favor of the bill. But the poll results raise this question: Do Oklahomans want easy access to guns at any school or college in the state? The poll indicates they probably don’t.
The carry-on-campus results also raise the question whether Republicans are overreaching on the issue. The poll could also give more moderate Republicans and some Democrats breathing room to take a common-sense stance when it comes to guns on campus.
Kurt Hochenauer is a guest political analyst and commentator at SoonerPoll.com. Kurt is an English professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, a commentary writer for the Oklahoma Gazette and author of the award-winning Okie Funk blog.