State bill could impose stricter gun regulations on college campuses

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With votes along partisan lines, California legislators passed expanded restrictions regarding gun policy on school grounds and college campuses throughout the state.

Senate Bill 707, which is pending the approval of Gov. Jerry Brown, would remove a current exemption in state law that allows individuals with concealed carry weapon, or CCW, licenses to possess guns on campuses. Under California’s Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995, individuals are prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition within 1,000 feet of any school or on college campuses without permission from school officials.

Introduced by state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, the bill prohibits those who possess a CCW license from bringing concealed weapons on school property, barring permission from an administrator.

The governor’s pending decision comes amid reignited dialogue on gun control nationwide after 10 died in a Thursday shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

After seven died and 14 were injured near UC Santa Barbara in May 2014, the state passed a gun-control bill that temporarily prevented people from owning or buying guns who were deemed susceptible to committing acts of violence.

UCPD Capt. Alex Yao said campus police officers have received regular training and have conducted scenario exercises since the early 2000s to prepare for any situation.

“We are proactive in reviewing law enforcement best practices and lessons learned from tragic events involving active shooters around the country and continuously refining our approach and tactics to address this type of threat,” Yao said.

According to Yao, campus police have been providing a safety presentation to the campus community on how to respond to an active-shooter situation.

Ari Freilich — a staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, based in San Francisco — noted that while California is typically a leader in stringent gun regulations, the state has been lagging in addressing weapons on school campuses.

According to Freilich, 38 states have laws that strictly outlaw CCW license holders from carrying firearms into school zones, while only eight states have regulations that allow license holders to carry firearms on college campuses without administrative permission.

Several pro-gun organizations — such as the National Rifle Association, the Firearms Policy Coalition and the California Rifle and Pistol Association — voiced their opposition to SB 707.

In a letter of opposition released in April, the Firearms Policy Coalition wrote that the proposal “is the epitome of a bad solution in search of a nonexistent problem and that, if passed, it would one day be looked upon as the irrational, dangerous, and life threatening political move that it is.”

Provided the legislation is enacted into law, the Firearms Policy Coalition stated in the letter that it would file a federal lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality.

Contact Alok Narahari at [email protected].