"We are college and university presidents. We are parents. We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We urge both our President and Congress to take action on gun control now. As a group, we do not oppose gun ownership. But, in many of our states, legislation has been introduced or passed that would allow gun possession on college campuses. We oppose such laws."
Welch said last week he believes there is a difference in infringing on someone's rights and taking precaution.
"We need to find a reasonable balance between the right of citizens to possess and use guns and the misuse of assault rifles and other weapons that can cause mass destruction," he said.
In 2010, more than 2,500 young people were killed by gunfire, with about 70 who were elementary school-age children, according to the petition, which cites the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.
"If those children and teens were alive today, they would fill 108 classrooms of 25 each," the letter says.
The petition isn't the only effort for gun control being led by college presidents since the Connecticut tragedy.
The president of Emerson College, Lee Pelton, has written a similar letter to President Obama, which also has garnered hundreds of fellow education leaders' signatures. A group called Colleges and Universities Opposed to Guns on Campus also has been formed to lead efforts. Bethany College, West Virginia's only national liberal arts school, is involved in both of those endeavors as well.
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.