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The Minnesota Daily

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The Minnesota Daily

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The Minnesota Daily

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GAPSA firearm ban resolution withdrawn

A top official in the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly offered a proposal Wednesday to ask the University to consider lifting its firearm ban but withdrew the resolution before a vote.

Bree Richards, GAPSA’s vice president of student affairs, suggested creating a task force to examine the Board of Regents 2003 policy – enacted in response to Minnesota’s conceal-and-carry law – which prohibits guns everywhere on campus besides vehicles.

But because of strong resistance from GAPSA representatives, some of whom called the resolution ideologically charged, Richards withdrew the proposal. She said she plans to rewrite it for a vote at the November meeting.

The Minnesota Student Association will consider a similar resolution at its meeting Tuesday.

Increasing violence in the campus area prompted the resolution, which is nonbinding, Richards said.

“Almost every week, there are several assaults and a lot of robbery at gunpoint,” she said. “This resolution is asking for the Board of Regents and a task force to discuss the ban – not necessarily change it, but discuss what the purpose behind it is.”

But Leah Rathbun, a Council of Graduate Students GAPSA representative, argued that allowing guns is not the best way to keep campus safe.

“Maybe the issue isn’t whether students should be able to bring guns into their classrooms, maybe the issue is what other things we should be doing to protect our students, like increasing police on campus,” she said.

Many representatives involved in the discussion shared Rathbun’s sentiments, claiming there is not sufficient reasoning to create the task force.

The University might be at risk for lawsuits under its current policy, said Richards, a law student, because it isn’t consistent with Minnesota’s conceal-and-carry law, passed in 2003.

The law allows those older than 21 who have undergone training and received permits through counties to carry firearms, though public universities are allowed to establish their own firearms regulations.

Richards said that when the campus ban on firearms passed three years ago, student and faculty opinions were not taken into account.

“Basically the decision was made exclusively by the Board of Regents,” she said. “I think getting feedback from the community is a good idea before making a decision.”

Regents Chairman Tony Baraga said he wouldn’t vote to overturn the ban.

“I’m a gun owner and a gun proponent and believe strongly in the right to carry weapons” he said. “Still, I don’t think there’s any reason that anyone should be carrying weapons on our campus.”

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg echoed Baraga’s comments.

“University property itself isn’t where violence has increased,” said Rotenberg. “It has increased near and around campus, and this policy does not affect those areas.”

Richards said that though the increased violence is off campus, “the crime is happening to students who are coming and going from campus.”

At the meeting, Abu Jalal, vice president of finance and former GAPSA president, said he would support a task force because of increasing safety concerns near campus.

“I’m afraid to walk alone at night,” he said. “Especially in the past few months, I’ve had to change my habits.”

Sharon Dzik, director of Student Judicial Affairs, said there have been no firearm violations during her three years on the job.

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