City College Debates Whether to Arm Campus Police

Should campus cops carry guns? That’s the question being debated at City College of San Francisco, where a would-be shooter forced the school library to evacuate last month.

On Oct. 13, an altercation between three students spilled into the Rosenberg Library, where one student allegedly pulled a handgun. According to college newspaper The Guardsman, students and library staff took cover as campus police arrived.

The problem is that CCSF cops aren’t authorized to carry firearms — only batons and pepper spray. So they essentially waited on the sidelines until the Ingleside police department responded.

“We were there in one minute, Ingleside took eight, and by the time both had arrived the suspects had fled,” college police public information Officer Tiffany Green told The Guardsman.

Some on campus think it’s time to reconsider the no-gun policy.

[jump] As ABC 7 reports, nearly all of California's community colleges arm their police, but since 2001, when CCSF established a campus police force, the school has been gun-free. For those tasked with protecting CCSF’s 11 campuses and 80,000 students, the firearm ban has been especially divisive.

In 2007, former campus police chief Carl Koehler resigned because school officials wouldn’t “take a serious look” at the gun policy.

As The Guardsman notes, last month Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB707, which restricts Californians with concealed carry permits from bringing firearms or ammunition onto college campuses unless those materials are in a locked vehicle. (As previous shootings this year have demonstrated, stashing weapons in a car doesn't always prevent shootings.)

Gov. Brown's bill went “against the grain” of how lawmakers in other states are talking about gun on campus, per the New York Times.

“California is the only state that I know of that has passed a modern ban on people being able to carry a gun on college campuses. The California law is interesting in that, can you point to one example of any problem they’ve had with the current rules? So why are they changing it?” John Lott, head of the Crime Prevention Research Center, asked the Times.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 10 states allow at least some civilians to carry concealed weapons on college campuses, either because of legislation or a court decision.

Interim City College chancellor Susan Lamb told ABC 7 that the gun policy is complex, and that while the campus can be safe “without necessarily carrying guns,” firearms are “an added safety measure.” She will make her recommendation to college trustees in a few months.

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