We leave a record-breaking October; despite early troubles, this has been the first time in a decade that October hasn’t had a school shooting. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything’s fixed now, and as such we should ensure that we’re informed about gun laws and safety.
Because it must be brought up early, this story is not about gun control. It is not to state that “we must remove all guns.” It is not saying “everyone should own a gun.” It is merely a statement on what the law is in Arizona, and how prepared our campuses are to deal with a shooting should one occur.
First comes the obvious issue, are automatic weapons legal in Arizona? Technically yes. Fully automatic weapons are heavily restricted on the national level. Citizens cannot obtain a new one legally. However, according to national laws and regulations, machine guns that were in circulation before the laws banning the private ownership of machine guns are legal, and may have ownership transferred with ATF (U.S. agency regulating Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) approval. There are ways to modify semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic; these are generally illegal and most modern civilian firearms are designed to prevent these methods.
Secondly is the issue of concealed weapons. These are somewhat legal in Arizona. A handgun is legal to be conceal-carried anywhere that doesn’t have its own restrictions on carrying firearms. A rifle or shotgun may not be carried except within one’s own home and in approved areas. You can carry a shotgun into a range, you can carry a pistol into a restaurant, you can carry neither into a government building except with state approval. Our campuses (and nearly every college campus) have heavy restrictions on all kinds of weapons. Only sworn officers of the law may have them on campus.
Third is the issue of licenses. You do not need a license to own a firearm in the state of Arizona. You also don’t need to register firearms you own in Arizona. Anyone may obtain a firearm and carry it into a public park concealed. However, if one obtains a firearm in Arizona and desires to take it out of Arizona, they must obtain a license to do so and then can only do so in states that recognize an Arizona gun-carry license. Both this and the information about concealed weapons can be found on the NRA’s website.
Fourth is the issue of our campuses and how they’re prepared to defend against a shooting, should one occur. According to James Matheney, the Signal Peak Campus’ chief of Police, the first priority is to not have one occur. Prevention primarily takes on the form of attempting to maintain a friendly and welcoming campus community. There is almost always a reason behind a shooting, and it almost always comes from within the community. Maintaining an environment that refuses to breed violence is the key to prevention.
Should one occur anyway, the campus police protocol is the same as all police protocol: engage the shooter, end the threat. The Signal Peak Campus hosts a police training facility and on any given day can have as many as thirty officers present. Should a situation arise in which they’re needed, it will be resolved.
For those that want information on what they should do if something should happen, there’s a video on the college website about it. Just go to the homepage, choose the “Campus Life” tab, go to “Public Safety,” and the link will be listed as “Shots Fired on Campus Video.”