While communities such as Aurora, Colo., grapple with the aftermath of gun-related homicides, a new debate over gun control emerges — this time at the University of Colorado Boulder, located less than an hour’s drive from the Century 16 theater where an armed assailant killed a dozen moviegoers in July.
Once merely a university issue, CU-Boulder’s recent decision to permit concealed carry on campus is now in the national spotlight.
The policy shift comes in the wake of a March decision by the Colorado Supreme Court, which ruled that Boulder’s blanket ban on concealed carry was an overreach of university power.
The revised measures attempt to regulate campus gun possession in ways “consistent with [the Court’s] decision,” reported Insider Higher Ed, an online education newspaper. Though Boulder will forbid students from carrying concealed firearms at large sporting events and in undergraduate dormitories, any student or staff member with a concealed carry permit will be welcome to pack heat in classrooms, offices and most other public spaces.
At least one professor isn’t happy about the new policy. Jerry Peterson, the chair of the university’s Faculty Assembly, told local journalists that allowing students to carry firearms in class could curtail academic freedom.
“I want my students to feel unconstrained in their discussions,” he told Boulder’s Daily Camera.
“If I am aware that there is a firearm in the class — registered or unregistered, concealed or unconcealed — the class session is immediately canceled.”
Peterson’s remarks, which were publicized by the Huffington Post and other outlets, helped draw attention to the situation at CU-Boulder and the debate surrounding concealed carry on university campuses nationwide.
Currently, 49 out of 50 states allow residents to carry concealed firearms, but most states restrict the practice at colleges and universities. Twenty-one states ban campus concealed carry entirely, and an additional 24 leave the choice to ban concealed firearms up to the discretion of individual campuses.
An Aug. 27 editorial written by the staff of Student Life, an independent newspaper at Washington University in St. Louis, argued that the consequences of allowing concealed firearms on campus outweigh any perceived benefits.
“Allowing anyone other than police officers to carry concealed weapons on campus would likely incite more violent incidences than it would prevent.”
Andrew Frolich, a student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, agreed with this assessment.
“The addition of more bullets and greater chaos into an already dangerous situation,” Frolich said, “is more likely to add to the casualty list than limit it. … As with the general public, concealed carry of firearms has no place in our schools and college campuses.”
Other students, including Daniel O’Connell, a senior at Indiana University, said they wouldn’t mind concealed carry on their campuses.
“I don’t think that I would feel less safe, and I would probably participate,” said O’Connell, a columnist for the Indiana Daily Student.
But Frolich said he believes carrying a gun “creates a different mentality in an armed individual,” and that guns “can act as a catalyst to escalate minor conflicts out of control.”
The presence of alcohol and illicit drugs on college campuses, added Frolich, “would heighten the dangers associated with carrying a firearm.”
O’Connell disagrees. Though he thinks concerns about alcohol and drugs are valid, he said that they “shouldn’t preclude responsible people from exercising their right to self-defense.”
Fall semester classes at CU-Boulder began Aug. 27.
What do you think about concealed carry policies on your campus? Let us know in the comments below.
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