A gun on campus is a serious matter, as a Yuba College student recently learned. On Wednesday, October 23, Andrew Scott Kaba, 20, of College City, was arrested after campus police found a rifle in his vehicle.
Early that morning, a Yuba College employee notified campus police that Kaba had a firearm in the back of his Mercedes station wagon. In addition to the unloaded .308 caliber rifle, police found a hunting license, deer tags and the proper paperwork for hunting in Kaba’s car.
“This usually happens a couple times a year,” said Yuba College Police Chief Dennis Dunn in an interview with the “Appeal-Democrat.” Most people don’t even know it’s against the law, Dunn said of the ban of firearms on campus, “even though advisory signs are posted at all entrances to the campus.”
Kaba was released on $25,000 bail.
The Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1995 made it a felony to bring a loaded or unloaded firearm on any California school grounds, public or private, from elementary to university. The legislation, chaptered in California Penal Section 626.9, states that any person who brings or possesses a loaded firearm upon the grounds of a public or private university or college, unless it is with the written permission of the university or college president, “shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years.”
According to the California Penal Code, similar prohibitions apply to the transportation and possession of unloaded firearms on campus.U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Security Statistics reveal that in 1998 six arrests were made at Yuba College for illegal weapons possession. In 1999 one arrest was made for the same offense, and in 2000 only one more. During that three-year period of the eight arrests, only one case received disciplinary action.
Aside from one unsolved forcible sex offense in 1998 at the Marysville campus, no other violent crimes have been reported by Yuba College police in four years. In fact, statistics reveal that the most prominent crime at Yuba College is burglary, followed by motor vehicle theft.Other campuses in the area have not been as tame. In its October 20 issue, “The Sacramento Bee” reported that two men armed with a stick and a handgun threatened to kill two other people during a Sunday sporting event at Consumnes River College. Campus police said that they could not respond because college police officers are not allowed to carry handguns. Instead, Consumnes campus police called in the Sacramento Police department. In the eight minutes it took officers to respond, the attackers got away.
Police carry guns at University of California and California State University campuses. Many public high school police also have armed officers. However, of the 108 state community college campuses, officers carry handguns at 55 of them.
At Yuba College, Police Chief Dennis Dunn has the authority to carry a gun while no other police officer or cadet on campus is allowed to carry a firearm.
“The first time I heard of the issue,” said Yuba College social science professor Salvador Soto, “there were people that didn’t support the idea of police having guns on campus. It was my feeling and that of other professors that this was an over-reaction on the part of the administration to what had happened at Lindhurst High School: people got killed there.”
Soto continued, “If we look at those incidents, there wasn’t that much that the police could have done to stop those people from killing when it did happen. But it is a belief that we cannot over-react. We give up too much when we over-react. At that time a compromise was made, and instead of having all the police officers with guns, we let the chief have a gun.”
Most of the Yuba College professors interviewed were wary of police carrying firearms on campus.
“Unfortunately, the majority of people who are shot are non-whites,” noted David Rubiales, history professor. “Police need to be sensitive to ethnic and racial issues if they are to carry guns on campus.”
Sujan Burgeson, humanities professor, said, “Stun guns are a good idea, or rubber bullets to prevent serious harm. People would also feel safe with more emergency phones.”
Yuba College has not experienced the type of crime reported at more urban college districts, such as Los Rios. In fact, according to California College and Police Association officials, most rural colleges, like Yuba College, do not allow their officers to carry guns.
“Even if they don’t carry guns, I feel protected,” said student and peer counselor Maria Ochoa.
Other Yuba College students have differing opinions.
Lupe Diaz, student and peer counselor, said, “It’s a good idea (for campus police to carry guns) because they will have something to defend themselves with.”
Student Natalie Craig said, “Personally, I don’t think that they should have guns because I don’t think that it’s that necessary for them to carry guns.”
Nacho Valdovinos, an engineering student, said, “Knowing of the status of cops shooting African and Mexican Americans, I say it’s not cool.”The California Crime index indicates a drop in both violent and property crimes in the state from 1992 to 2000. According to Chief Dunn, however, “It’s a different picture now.”
Most students and faculty interviewed about police carrying guns on campus echoed the sentiments of Professor Soto: “There are other things that can be done. We have to have a cool head, and a cool head would say, ‘no guns on campus.'”