PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota Senate panel has approved a bill that would bar public universities and technical schools from restricting people's ability to carry guns on campus.

The Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 Tuesday to advance the bill to the floor.

Jordan Mason, political director at South Dakota Gun Owners, says the bill would give students a "fighting chance to defend themselves." Republican Sen. Stace Nelson says gun-free zones don't work.

The Board of Regents and student officials opposed the measure. Regents' policy prohibits firearms on campus with some exceptions.

University of South Dakota President Sheila Gestring says she's worried freely allowing guns on campus would negatively affect the campus climate and the community's safety.

SDSU Students' Association Government Affairs Chair Cole McDougall says students overwhelmingly believe firearms have no place in a higher education setting.

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