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August 27, 2015

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state legislature:

Debate continues on measure to allow concealed weapons on campus

CARSON CITY — A former university student who was raped at gunpoint at UNR testified Wednesday in support of concealed weapons on campus.

Amanda Collins told the Assembly Judiciary Committee she obeyed the law and left her gun at home. If she had a gun, “I would not be an easy target.”

She said if she had been able to prevent the 2007 attack, two later rapes and the killing of Brianna Denison by the same man wouldn’t have occurred.

In her emotional testimony, Collins said she had thoughts of suicide after the rape, which happened in a university garage about 100 yards from the campus police station.

But Aimee Riley, student body president at the College of Southern Nevada, said students are “horrified” at Senate Bill 231. She said police officers should be the ones who carry weapons on campus.

“It’s not a good idea,” Riley said.

The committee heard testimony for more than three hours but didn’t take action. The bill has passed the Senate 15-6, but strong opposition came from law enforcement and faculty members Wednesday.

Current law requires a student or faculty member to get permission from college or university presidents to carry a concealed weapon on campus. Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Dan Klaich said permission had been granted to about five students, but he didn’t know how many applications had been submitted.

Klaich said campuses are losing faculty, and it would be more difficult to recruit new professors if this bill passed.

Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, said people have to go through several procedures to gain a concealed-weapons permit. The use of a weapon “is not to have an equalizer so I can get an ‘A.’ ”

Lee, the bill’s sponsor, said Collins was given a permit to carry the concealed weapon on campus after she was attacked.

Individuals shouldn’t be allowed to carry weapons in grade school and high school, but campuses of universities and community colleges are different, Lee said. Weapons should be restricted in dormitories and at athletic events, he said.

Leah Wilds, an associate professor at UNR, said more than half of faculty in the system “adamantly oppose” the bill. If concealed weapons are allowed, she said she would fear for her safety.

Frank Adams, representing the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association, said these law enforcement officials have mixed feelings on the issue. But the association opposes removing the power of campus presidents in making the decision to permit a concealed weapon on campus.

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