University of Maryland, College Park president Wallace Loh has endorsed state legislative efforts to limit gun ownership, following an apparent murder-suicide this month involving students at the school.
Loh, in a column to be published in the campus newspaper, The Diamondback, on Thursday, wrote that making the campus and surrounding areas safer had long been a priority for him. Yet it was the recent shooting — police say a graduate student living off-campus killed his roommate and wounded another roommate before killing himself — that spurred Loh's public endorsement of Gov. Martin O'Malley's gun control legislative package.
"The shooting of our students so close to the campus was a tragedy," he wrote in the column. "Given the circumstances, it could have been a mass tragedy. We must address gun safety in our state."
Loh also said he wants to hire more campus police officers and expand their patrols.
Early in the morning Feb. 12, Dayvon Green, an engineering graduate student who graduated from Morgan State University, set fires around his off-campus house to lure his roommates outside, according to police. Once he had done so, he shot and killed Stephen Rane, 22, and wounded Neal Oa, 22, police said. Oa's family members have said he is recovering.
Police said Green was suffering from an unspecified mental illness, which Loh referred to in his column. The proposed legislation would limit the availability of guns to those suffering from serious mental health issues that may cause them to be a threat.
"I respect the constitutional right of gun ownership," Loh wrote. "Strengthening regulations will save lives and need not strangle this right. As part of our university's comprehensive approach to safety, I urge the General Assembly to enact the governor's gun safety legislation."
Loh also noted crime on campus has declined dramatically. Several recent armed robberies of students had stoked fears, however, before last week's shooting.
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