COLUMBIA, S.C. – To prevent school shootings, some South Carolina legislators want more guns on campuses.
A House subcommittee approved a measure Wednesday that would allow concealed weapon permit holders to carry guns onto public school campuses, from elementary schools to universities. Supporters say having trained and armed gun owners in schools could prevent massacres like the April 16 shootings at Virginia Tech, where one armed student killed 32 people.
Only Utah currently has a law allowing concealed weapons on campuses.
"We're not talking about kids. We're talking about responsible adults," said Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan, who sponsored the bill.
Opponents fear more guns will mean more accidental shootings.
"You can't call a bullet back," said Democratic Rep. Seth Whipper. "It's a bad idea."
The bill heads to the House Judiciary Committee, though it is not expected to pass the Legislature before the scheduled adjournment June 7.
Nationwide, 37 states ban weapons at schools. Of those, 16 explicitly prohibit weapons on college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
College police chiefs across South Carolina said such a law would make it difficult to pinpoint a criminal. "Today, if we respond, we know the person with the weapon is the bad guy," said Ernest Ellis, the law enforcement director at the University of South Carolina.
To obtain a concealed weapon permit in South Carolina, a resident must be at least 21, undergo at least eight hours of handgun training, and pass criminal and mental background checks.