University of Rhode Island campus police officers responded to reports of a gunman on the campus, but were not carrying guns themselves.
According to CampusReform.org, there is a state law that bans campus police from carrying guns on public college campuses. Rhode Island is the only state in the U.S. with this law.
Instead og guns, the campus police were armed with batons and pepper spray as they searched a campus building, Chaffee Hall.
Rhode Island State Police, who were armed, did confiscate a toy Nerf gun, but could not confirm if this was the gun that was reported. The State Police suggested the incident might be related to an on-campus sanctioned game known as “Humans vs. Zombies,” reports The WesterleySun.com.
“Historically they have never been armed,”said Michael Trainor, a spokesman for the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education, told Campus Reform.org. “The board has twice in the last four years have conducted studies and reviews but the board has not deemed it necessary to take action yet. As to whether it will look this issue again right now, that remains unknown.”
“Simply more guns in the mix isn't a solution to violence on university and college campuses,” said Christine Hunsinger, a spokeswoman for Governor Lincoln Chaffee. “The governor is very opening to listening to both sides but it should be looked at as part of a whole solution…. We need to see what else can be done to make those places safe.”
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University of Rhode Island Police Major Stephen Baker did admit concern for sending in unarmed police officers: "It weighs on your mind when you respond in cases like this. We had five of our officers plus myself. I'm always concerned for their well being in a case like that."
"Guess they don’t have the money,” University of Rhode Island Police Officer Mark Chearino told TheWesterleySun.com. “I don’t know. They don’t trust us... I’m gonna run and hide behind a car like everyone else. I’m not Superman.”