ECU chancellor expresses concern over concealed gun bill

GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY - East Carolina University Chancellor Steve Ballard said he is concerned about the state bill that would allow people with concealed-carry permits to bring guns onto ECU and other college campuses.

A provision on House Bill 937 would allow concealed weapons permit holders to  store their handguns in locked vehicles on the 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina system.

"[The bill] could have a direct and negative impact to the safety of our campus," Chancellor Balllard said in a statement on Friday. "Supporters of this bill say it will make our campuses safer. I don't believe that to be true. In fact, it has the potential to create dangerous situations for our faculty, staff, students and visitors.

"For example, if an incident occurs on our campus, law enforcement arriving on the scene must be able to quickly distinguish suspects from bystanders," Ballard said. "Allowing weapons on campus could hamper their ability to make split-second decisions while assessing the situation. The consequences could be tragic.

"It is our obligation to provide a safe environment at ECU. And I believe the best approach is by relying on the expertise of our accredited police department," Ballard continued. "I share the concerns expressed by President Tom Ross, my fellow chancellors, and our campus police officers that this proposed change would create increased risk on our campuses. I encourage the General Assembly to reconsider the provision allowing weapons onto our campus."

Supporters of the provision said it's a crime deterrent. The bill is still making it's way through the General Assembly.

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