Below is the updated faculty statement Against SB 1467, which, if passed, will make it impossible for universities (and community colleges) to maintain their status as "weapons-free" zones. Since the initial posting, which had signatures of over 600 faculty members within the first day of posting, our actions (along with those of many others) brought about a change in the bill. SB 1467 was amended such that the University could ban weapons in classrooms and buildings, not in the public rights of way (streets, and other outdoor spaces on campus). Under the revised SB1467, weapons could still be carried there, and the revised bill would allow them to be carried by anyone over the age of 18, licensed or not! A revised faculty statement now appears below.
FACULTY AGAINST GUNS ON CAMPUS
Statement of Opposition
We, the undersigned faculty of The University of Arizona, vehemently oppose legislation that would allow weapons on our campus. If such legislation is passed, everyone on campus would be placed at significantly higher levels of risk of bodily and psychological harm. Those placed at higher risk would include all who study and work here, all who transact business here, and all guests and visitors. It would change how faculty respond to disruptive or aggressive behaviors. The passage of such legislation would blunt the expected, conventional approaches used by instructors, i.e., persuasion, pedagogy, engagement, and insistence. We fear that our present and future students would lose those tangibles and intangibles that make universities so valuable; and we can imagine an inevitable decline in academic standards.
The University of Arizona is an essential part of our community; it is where our able children and grandchildren should have the right to come to learn and to be inspired. In so doing, they and their teachers should be free from the proliferation and potential menace of deadly weapons.
Our Basic Argument, A Faculty Perspective
Legislation currently being considered would deprive governing boards (e.g., the Arizona Board of Regents, i.e., ABOR) of authority and academic freedom in making prudent and considered judgments about whether individual students, staff, faculty, administrators, guests, and visitors to any and all of the three Arizona universities, or to the ABOR offices, are permitted to possess a concealed weapon and/or permitted to transport or store a firearm. We understand that weapons carriers are unlikely to use these weapons at the drop of a hat, but that is not the point. Rather, we fear two kinds of events: (1) simple accidents in which weapons are accidentally discharged, injuring bystanders; (2) reactions to threatening or disturbing situations that, once weapons are deployed, will make it impossible for the trained professionals on campus to tell the good guys from the bad guys. We appreciate that some individuals believe they need weapons to protect themselves, but we submit that these situations are extremely rare, whereas the accidental damage that the mere carrying of weapons can unleash is quite common. What is more, we know perfectly well that should a threatening situation emerge, the likelihood that anyone but a professional will deploy a weapon appropriately is quite low. Such threatening and intensely stressful situations make it highly likely, instead, that chaos will ensue, and that even more harm will follow.
As faculty we cannot speak for undergraduate students, graduate students, parents, staff, alumni, administrators, or Regents, but we can go on record with what we know from our own personal and professional experience.
If the legislation under consideration becomes law we will know that we ourselves and our students and colleagues are in harm’s way, and that our legislators and Governor put us there. The learning communities called universities would never again be the same. Fear and wariness would replace Welcoming. Our passion in teaching would be diminished by a dread that we are working and teaching in a dangerous environment.
We, whose names follow, underscore the stark contrast between what our University should be versus what it could become by law through the passage of poorly considered legislation. Our Universitywould be forced to accept a condition in which anyone on campus may be concealing, transporting, or storing a firearm. We urge that the only weapons sanctioned in our environment be a sharp mind and a pointed argument.