HB 199: Safe or insane?

In the coming days, lawmakers in Baton Rouge will begin to mull House Bill 199, a measure that would allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry their arms onto college and school campuses across the state.

Authored by Belle Chasse House Rep. Ernest Wooten, the bill passed Thursday through a Louisiana House of Representatives committee despite pleas from campus administrators and students concerned that the measure would create an unsafe environment.

Supporters of Wooten’s bill argue that if students were allowed to carry guns on campus, they could have helped prevent some of the recent school shootings. Opponents see it differently. By openly authorizing students to carry guns, it would create a hostile environment, they argue.

While Wooten, one can only guess, envisions an even playing field, most parents of school- or college-age students imagine the equivalent of a shoot-out at the OK Corral.

And which scenario is most accurate remains to be seen.

In the Tri-parishes, educators have strongly voiced opposition to HB 199, arguing that weapons on campus should be limited to the hands of campus police or police-assigned resource officers only.

Nicholls Sate University President Dr. Stephen Hulbert joined students in a rally on the steps of the Capitol Building in Baton Rouge last week to voice his concerns. With 7,000 students and another 1,000 people on the campus at any given time, Hulbert reasons Nicholls is best served having only university police, who are trained not only in handling weapons but, equally as important, handling weapons in a crisis situation.

It can easily be argued that had a Virginia Tech student or even a teacher at Columbine High School had a weapon stashed in his or her desk, a student could have easily been killed in the crossfire. In that instance, one wonders if Wooten’s legislation includes money set-aside for the lawsuits that are sure to follow.