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Colleges to fight concealed gun bill

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The heads of Oklahoma’s state colleges and universities are vowing to oppose any legislative efforts to allow concealed weapons on campus.

Legislation that would have allowed concealed weapons on college campuses was defeated earlier this year after college presidents and law enforcement officers said it would create chaos and even more violence on campus.

But the issue likely will resurface when the Legislature convenes next year, state Higher Education Chancellor Glen Johnson said Monday.

Johnson spoke to a group of college officials and law enforcement officers that make up the Campus Life and Safety and Security Task Force, formed after the 2007 shooting deaths at Virginia Tech.

House Bill 2513, which was defeated, would have allowed military veterans and others with firearms training to carry concealed weapons on campus.

Task force member Phil Berkenbile, leader of the state’s CareerTech system, said guns have no place at schools. He noted recent controversy when a small Texas school district decided to let some teachers and staff carry guns.

“I don’t think that’s something we want to start in Oklahoma,” Berkenbile said. “That’s got to be a high priority.”

Johnson said the task force will make clear in its upcoming report to the Legislature that it opposes weapons on college campuses.

The group also is planning to ask for about $16 million to improve safety and offer more mental health services on college and CareerTech campuses. The group may ask that the money be distributed through the state Department of Homeland Security.

Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, who introduced a measure to allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus, said Monday he would try again next year to give that right to at least some on campus.

His original bill was watered down so only military veterans and others with firearms training would have been allowed to carry concealed weapons on campus.

“I’m really committed to doing something to break up the gun-free bubble,” Murphey said. “There’s got to be a way to have an application of concealed-carry to a campus that at least makes it so that a criminal can’t go into that environment knowing that the only people that are going to have guns are going to have uniforms.”

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