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UNM students to bring Nerf guns to campus in protest

University of New Mexico student Tera Archie holds a sign during a protest and petition drive Monday calling on the university to allow stun guns on campus

University of New Mexico student Tera Archie holds a sign during a protest and petition drive on Feb. 29 calling on the university to allow stun guns on campus. (Dean Hanson/Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — They can’t have stun guns, so they’re bringing toy guns to the University of New Mexico campus in protest, say conservative and libertarian student groups on campus.

Marina Herrera, a member of the UNM chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, said she and other students will bring Nerf guns, devices that launch foam projectiles, in protest of a lack of policy that allows students to carry stun guns or pepper spray. She said the Nerf guns represent the only self-defense device UNM allows students.

The protest runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday in Smith Plaza. Herrera said student protesters will also be collecting signatures for a petition calling for the university to allow stun guns and pepper spray on campus. Students from the UNM chapters of the Young Americans for Freedom, Young Americans for Liberty and others will attend the protest, Herrera said.

The protest, Herrera said, is a response to a “Safety Day” event hosted by the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico. The protest takes place at the same time as the safety day.

ASUNM, the undergraduate student government, considered a resolution earlier this year that called for university officials to allow stun guns on campus. But that resolution failed.

Jenna Hagengruber, the president of ASUNM, said the undergraduate student body doesn’t have a stance on stun guns. And she said more research on the possession and use of stun guns should be done.

University policy bans the carrying of weapons on campus, but it doesn’t specifically mention stun guns or pepper spray.

“Weapons include, but are not limited to, firearms, ammunition or other dangerous weapons, substances, or materials, bombs, explosives, or incendiary devices,” it says.

UNM police spokesman Lt. Tim Stump said there’s no specific prohibition against stun guns or pepper spray, so police don’t cite people for possessing them.

“It’s not a clear-cut policy, and it’s not a crime,” Stump said.

The head of the university’s policy office, Pamina Deutsch, said the school policy banning weapons on campus could go “either way” when judging stun guns as weapons.

But she said her office is working on a preliminary policy update that is looking at prohibiting stun guns on campus, save for law enforcement, in the future. The preliminary policy would allow people to carry small amounts of pepper spray for self-defense.