Faculty Senate rejects bill allowing guns on campus


Rebecca Turnbull

Professor of biology, Philippe Georgel addresses the Faculty Senate Thursday, Feb. 18, on the importance of rejecting HB 2446 to prevent guns from being carried in the wrong hands.

Marshall University’s Faculty Senate rejected a bill Thursday in order to keep guns off Marshall’s campus.

West Virginia House Bill 2446 advocates for the permitted possession of firearms on the grounds of higher education institutions by all persons with valid licenses.

Professor of clinical psychology Pamela Mulder made the recommendation to the Senate to reject the HB 2446 resolution.

Mulder said she was compelled to request the bill’s rejection for her safety and the safety of her fellow faculty members.

“If my students are packing, that might be the last ‘F’ I ever give,” Mulder said.

Associate professor of psychology Paige Muellerleile said she is currently facing a dangerous situation with a student but still does not view the potential ability for her to carry a gun on campus as a solution.

“The risk of anyone else getting hurt or getting killed as the result of the mere presence of a gun increasing the likelihood that violence will happen is the standard finding in the literature,” Muellerleile said. “It’s just not a question.”

Assistant professor of neuroscience Dr. Paul Muizelaar objected to the Senate’s rejection and said he has experienced tight gun control in his home country of the Netherlands but does not see the need for faculty to be subject to tight gun regulations on campus when they are not subject to the same regulations off-campus.

“I don’t see why the university is any different from any other organization,” Muizelaar said. “Why can’t we be just like all the other citizens? That’s going to be the worst of all.”

Professor of education Tom Hisiro also opposed the rejection and said he would feel more comfortable if he could depend on those around him carrying guns in case of a shooter situation.

“If there was a crisis situation right now at this very moment and if someone was quick enough to get on their phone and call security, it would take security how long to get down here?” Hisiro asked. “Trusting anybody in this room who possesses a license to carry a firearm and has had training in that, per se, I would rather have you have that firearm if there was a crisis than wait several minutes for security to show up.”

Professor of biology Philippe Georgel said he has known of individuals in his home country of France who were highly trained in gun safety providing a gun to someone who could potentially use the gun for harm.

Georgel said the situation showed him how easily a gun can fall into the wrong hands, especially if there are no regulations to stop the perpetrator.

“It was a ticking bomb waiting to happen,” Georgel said. “Those people are dangerous. They can be anywhere. If we have them on campus, there’s a problem.”

Professor of biotechnology Elizabeth Murray said aside from the faculty, the campus has a large, vulnerable population of 18 to 21-year-olds who are more at risk for committing suicide than threatening others.

“I think arming ourselves to prevent mass shooting is the fantasy that says, ‘Everyone should be armed,’ but the reality is people have a bad day, they get that ‘F’ from you and then instead of threatening you, they go and kill themselves,” Murray said. “I just don’t want that to be something that’s an easy access for this group of students. I just think that would be a wrong thing.”

Marshall University Police Department Chief Jim Terry made a statement on the resolution to reject the bill that read: “The passage of this bill will strongly reduce the ability of the MUPD to provide security to Marshall faculty, staff and students.”

Chief Terry’s statement was read to the Senate by Marybeth Beller of the Advisory Council of Faculty, prior to the Senate’s vote resulting in the rejection of HB 2446.

The next Faculty Senate meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. March 31 in room BE5 of the Memorial Student Center.

Rebecca Turnbull can be contacted at [email protected]