Lawmakers hear testimony about arming college campus guards - WFSB 3 Connecticut


Lawmakers hear testimony about arming college campus guards

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(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)

In the wake of a number of school shootings, the president of the state colleges and universities system spoke in support of a bill that would allow armed guards on campuses.

Mark Ojakian, president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities,  testified before the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee in support of Raised Bill 25. On Thursday afternoon Ojakian said the bill was about safety. 

"While I fully appreciate the sensitivity surrounding the idea of having guns on our community college campuses, I believe we at CSCU do an obligation to try and address  the concerns of our students faculty and staff and make them feel safe," Ojakian said.

Others, however, called the measure giving into paranoia based off of what's happened around the country.

The new bill would extend the same model to community colleges.

The Connecticut Board of Regents recently approved the motion to allow security guards to carry guns on community college campuses.

The board went into an executive session in December to pass the measure.

One of the worst shootings at a community college took place this past October. A student opened fire during a writing class at a community college in Roseberg, Oregon. Nine people were killed before the gunman shot himself.

Only Naugatuck Valley Community College has armed guards. That's because they are grandfathered into a previous law.

Students at Middlesex Community College told Eyewitness News they feel pretty safe on campus, but some say it wouldn't hurt to have better protection.

"It’s probably not such a bad idea," said Sarah Johnston, a Middlesex Community College student. "There’s always better safer than sorry, I guess.”

Middlesex students who spoke to Eyewitness News said they've felt safe on campus so far. Most said they wouldn't mid if a police force came there.

"On one hand it could be good in case anything happens, but then on the other hand if something did happen it’s going to be a surprise," said Matthew Jacobs, a student. "We’re not going to be ready for it. So would the police force help or would it just make students nervous? I’m not sure.”

State four-year schools, like Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Connecticut state universities, already allow certain security staffers to carry firearms.

It still needs to be approved by the state legislature and then by the individual campuses.

The Board of Regents had been opposed to having armed guard at community colleges, but told Eyewitness News that's because the original plan would have been at only one school.

More on the bill can be found here.

The CSCU system has about 53,000 enrolled students.

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