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New Policy May Allow Firearms on College Campuses

A new policy may allow firearms on college campuses across the state.
STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - A new policy may allow firearms on college campuses across the state.

It's an old debate that's taking on a new perspective and it's causing some controversy across the region.

There are 14 state universities that operate under the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, including Lock Haven, Indiana and Clarion campuses.

Officials with the state are proposing a new policy that would allow properly permitted individuals to carry firearms on their campuses.

This policy is still in its early stages and state officials are asking for public input. It would be the first time every state school is mandated to operate under the same policy.

This policy would not effect Penn State because the school is state-related, but some students hope it will start some change.

It's a debate making waves on college campuses across the state, to allow guns, or not.

"A lot of people get the misconception that we just want everybody having a gun," Penn State Junior and Vice President of the Nittany Lions for Concealed Carry On Campus Club, Josh Rogers, said. "No, it's got to be done safely and smartly."

Rogers is all for it.

"It's right there with you. If something were to arise, you'd at least have an option to protect yourself," he said.

A new policy that may allow concealed carry on state campuses is something he hopes will set a precedent to get the ball rolling.

"If the state itself changes those rules, then that gives us a precedent to work on," Rogers said. "Right now, we really don't have a foot on the ground to really have any leverage to change the regulations here."

Penn State holds firm in their opinions, saying "Guns do not belong on campus in the hands of those with limited training....Police who are trained in handling firearms, shooting accuracy during stressful situations...and in making quick decisions should be the ones with weapons. The are the experts."

"Auxiliary police is a great start," Rogers said. "But they can't be everywhere to protect you, so what's the next best option? Personal protection."

Representatives from Scott Conklin's office say this debate is a good thing.

"What we've seen and what we've looked over with the policy, I think what the intent here is to bring the policies into line with what is constitutionally allowed," Chief of Staff, Tor Michael, said.

He hopes whatever the decision by the state, discussion will begin in Centre County.

"Get involved and say this is what we want, this is what we don't want," he said. "I think we need to have a health debate on this issue."

Representatives say the earliest a new policy can be put into place is Fall 2014. They say it is likely opportunities will arise to adapt the policy, based on each school's circumstances.
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