Dear Campus Community:
The 109th Tennessee General Assembly is considering legislation that will permit full-time employees of the University of Memphis and other public colleges and universities to carry handguns on our campuses if the employee has a valid Tennessee handgun carry permit. We oppose this legislation and do not believe the presence of more weapons will make our campuses safer.
The University of Memphis has consistently been one of the safest places in the state. We believe our exemplary safety record is due in part to guns being prohibited on our campuses. Additionally,
- More weapons on campus may result in more frequent emergency alerts and possible lockdowns, which will disrupt our academic mission and will adversely impact student success.
- Unlike police officers, handgun carry permit holders are not trained to respond to stressful events or to mitigate violent situations, which could lead to catastrophic consequences.
- In an incident of possible mass violence, every second is critical. Encountering armed people will delay police officers from responding to threats. Each armed person and weapon will have to be secured before officers can move forward. The current national law enforcement model directs officers to respond and engage any threats as quickly as possible.
While acts of mass violence are rare on college campuses, we recognize our responsibility to prepare for a number of crises. In addition to having our own well-trained and adequately equipped police department that can respond quickly, the UofM has a multi-hazard emergency response plan, conducts regular training exercises for emergency events, and has an overlapping emergency notification system. This semester, we conducted seminars to inform our community on how to remain safe during crisis events, which included Be TigerREADY resources.
In closing, we oppose additional weapons on campus except those carried by highly-trained police officers. To help us keep our campuses safe, we urge the legislature to retain the existing laws that prohibit weapons on our campuses.
Be TigerREADY resources: http://www.memphis.edu/crisis/emergency_info.php.
M. David Rudd | President
Bruce Harber | AVP for Administration and Chief of Police