With 12 guns seized on campus last year, 2015 proved to be the biggest year yet in gun confiscation for UWG. The guns seized during the 12-month period included an AK47 confiscated from the University Suites.
“If you had fired that round [in the AK47], it could have probably gone through five or six rooms,” said Thomas Mackel, Chief of Police at UWG, describing the danger of carrying guns in dormitories. “It could have done some serious damage to people very far away from it.”
Out of the 12 guns, three were reported stolen from Clayton County, Ga., and Wisconsin, and only approximately 40 percent of the arrestees were UWG students.
Mackel could not give any specific reasons for the sudden increase in the number of guns confiscated on campus.
The Georgia House of Representatives recently legalized the House Bill 859, also known as the “campus carry” bill, which is now awaiting Senate consideration. If the bill is signed by the governor and passes the Senate’s approval, the trend of guns on campus might see a dramatic increase.
The campus carry bill allows those age 21 and older with a weapon license to carry firearms on public colleges and universities with the exception of dormitories, sorority and fraternity houses and athletic events.
“If the weapons are dangerous in those places, then why aren’t they dangerous outside?” he said. “If students are not allowed to have it in dorm rooms, then why is it okay to have it in classrooms? Or anywhere else on campus?”
The term “athletic events” mentioned in the bill only includes sports like football and baseball and excludes intramural sports.
“We’ve had a number of fights over flag football and over soccer games,” said Mackel. “And we cannot ban firearms there.”
Mackel said the bill was passed on the notion that campuses are not safe, especially given the recent robberies at Georgia State University, where several students were robbed at gunpoint in the campus library.
“There are massive amounts of alcohol consumed (among students), which affects people’s judgment,” he said. “You have a whole lot of testosterone, and when you mix that with alcohol, we have fights and domestic violence. We have students who are flunked by their faculty because they did not do their work and emotions run high.”
According to Mackel, all these are an invitation for danger and violence, particularly when there are guns within reach. However, he said what he dreads most are self-harm situations and accidents that might occur with weapons on campus.
“I’m more concerned about students who are depressed and suicidal,” Mackel said. “When there are guns available to them, will they choose not to harm themselves? Or will they?”
Currently, there are eight states in which campus carry is legalized: Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. Mackel said that he has written to universities in those states to ask their opinion on how they control violence and dangers as a result of guns on campus.
Thus far, there have been no guns confiscated at UWG in 2016.