Dylan Morrill

Equinox Staff


On Feb. 8, the New Hampshire state Senate voted to send House Bill 334, which would allow gun carry on campus,  to interim study, which is essentially the backburner for bills. It is not likely that it will ever come up again.

However, depending on the results of the state legislative elections this November, it is at least possible that the bill may arise from the dead in a sort of Newt Gingrich-like way.

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For now though, the bill has definitely been defeated.

Some credit for the triumph over the radical bill which was set to force Keene State College to allow guns on campus is due to the advocacy of students and staff at KSC.

The majority of the students at KSC do not support the idea of allowing guns on campus.

A study done in March of 2011 found that 72.5 percent of KSC students do not think guns should be allowed on the KSC campus.

“I think the more guns that are in the public, the more dangerous the public becomes” said Tori Wunder, a freshman majoring in political science.

But it is a complex issue.

Seth Farmer, a senior who is double majoring in economics and communications believes that violence will always be present, banning guns will only allow violence to manifest itself in different ways.

“Violence is always going to be in existence,” Farmer said, “In the Bahamas they have outlawed all guns and now people get hacked up by machetes.”

Acting on the sentiment of the majority, the KSC Student Assembly unanimously passed bill SP12#01 on Jan. 31. The bill was a memorandum in support of the University of New Hampshire Student Senate Resolution XXXIII Resolution 6, a measure advocating for the exclusion of public colleges and universities from New Hampshire House Bill 334.

Basically, with Bill SP12#0, the Student Assembly expressed its belief that KSC should be excluded from House Bill 334, allowing us to make our own gun policy

“If it did get passed we would like an amendment to have the ability to allow us to determine what’s best for our own students,” Tyler Rines, the Student Assembly Chair, said.

Rines, with the help of Colin Daly, the Student Body President, sent the results of Student Assembly Bill SP12#01 to all 24 members of the New Hampshire State Senate on Feb. 2 in a letter urging the Senators to consider the KSC Student Assembly’s decision in their deliberation of House Bill 334.

“We are not necessarily advocating for no guns on campus, though for some here that is what they feel is best, but we would at least like the ability to make our own policies regarding this important issue,” Rines said.

Some of the inspiration for the Student Assembly letter came from a similar letter which was sent to the Senators two days prior from Pat Dolenc, the president of the KSC Education Association, Michael McCarthy, the president of the KSC Adjunct Association, Timothy Garland, the chair of the Operating Staff Council and Kim Schmidl-Gagne the chair of Professional/Administrative/ and Technical Staff Council.

The group sent a three-page letter to the New Hampshire State Senators on Jan. 31, detailing their personal beliefs as to why House Bill 334 would hurt KSC.

“It was a personal letter from the three of us as leaders, ” Schmidl-Gagne said. “We don’t say that we are representing the views of all of the faculty.”

Though the letter represented the groups’ personal beliefs, they received over 30 emails of support from KSC staff after the letter was sent to the senators and not a single email against the letter.

It explained, in very detailed bullet points, seven of the main reasons why House Bill 334 would hurt KSC. They were: the costs of a campus police force, children on campus, psychological disorders and suicide, alcohol and drugs, conflict resolution, classrooms and programming, maintenance, and campus policies and accidents.

According to the letter, if House Bill 334 was passed, an estimated additional $250,000 a year would be required to supplement the costs of personnel, training, and equipment for Campus Safety and, due to the Safe School Zone Act, create a deficit in the Education Program by forcing all early childhood events off campus decreasing revenue made from groups who use the space.

The money issue is especially important says Schmidl-Gagne because the state government recently cut its funding for KSC in half. “We’ve got to put together a 55 percent budget cut that this house just handed down to us,” Schmidl-Gagne said.

Schmidl-Gagne believes extra spending to uphold a loose interpretation of the second amendment is the last thing that KSC needs.

After all was said and done, both of the letters had a real impact on the Senates decision.

Eight days after the staff letter was sent, and six days after the Student Assembly letter was sent, House Bill 334 was voted into interim study by the New Hampshire Senate.

There were most likely a myriad of other citizens and public or private entities whose advocacy helped stop the bill, and it was never really expected to pass the senate, but it is likely that the two letters, with their honesty and pragmatism, had a noticeable impact on the deliberations.

Jim Luther, one of the state senators who received the letter from the KSC Student Assembly, responded to Rines the day before the bill was stopped in the Senate. “I serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee and am strongly against HB334,” Luther said in his response. He continued, “Your interest and efforts related to your concerns are to be commended.”

Rines thinks this achievement is especially important because the letters reflect the sentiment of the majority of the student body.

“The action that we took on this issue was a direct result of concerns raised by our constituents and we felt that it was our duty to voice their concerns to the state legislature and we also worked with the administration, the faculty, and staff. The campus was virtually unified on this issue.”


Dylan Morrill can be contacted at dmorill1@ksc.mailcruiser.com.


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