In the aftermath of high-profile shootings on college campuses, college administrators are considering whether to allow guns on campus. Administrators are divided, with some seeing guns as a way to keep students and faculty safe and others worried that more guns would only increase levels of violence on campus. Explore current law regarding guns on campus in America to get a more informed understanding of how state laws affect university policies regarding firearms.
While all 50 states allow individuals to carry concealed weapons if they meet certain requirements, 19 states prohibit concealed weapons on college campuses. The following states do not allow concealed weapons on campus at all: California, New Mexico, Nevada, Nebraska, Wyoming, Tennessee, Missouri, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, South Carolina, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts.
23 states allow universities to set their own policies regarding concealed weapons on campus. Higher education officials at universities in the following states can decide whether to allow or bar concealed carry on campus: Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska, Hawaii, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Montana, South Dakota, Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and Minnesota.
Recent court cases in Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin paved the way for concealed carry on campus in those states. Many had expressly prohibited concealed weapons before legal challenges, while others had statutes on the books mandating universities could not set policies regarding guns on public campuses.
Private universities may set their own rules regarding guns on campus, even in the eight states where public universities must allow students and faculty to carry guns.
University administrators weighing the right course of action must consider what will protect the safety and security of all on campus – students, faculty, staff, and members of the public. They must weigh not only their personal feelings on whether guns are good or bad on campus, but what the law says, what safety measures are in place on campus, and what the arguments are for and against concealed carry on campus from students, faculty, and staff.
After all, any policy will need to be implemented evenly to be effective. Before changing university policy on guns, administrators must anticipate opposition or backlash and how to enforce the policy.
In some cases, requiring firearms training and safe handling of guns can allay fears that gun-toting students will do more harm than good because they do not know how to use the guns they’ve brought on campus. In other cases, guns might be allowed outside but not in buildings.
Whether you support or oppose the issue of guns on campus, it should be clear that the issue is not going away any time soon. No matter what state law mandates regarding guns on campus, it is smart to prepare for a worst case scenario when a shooter comes to your campus. It’s important to have an emergency plan in place that includes a communication protocol that can reach everyone in the event of an active shooter.