College weapons policies contrast
Published: Thursday, August 30, 2012
Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2012 00:08
Eighteen months after Duquesne enforced measures to ban all weapons from its campus, the University of Colorado-Boulder’s weapons policy has been made more lenient due to a state court ruling.
A March Colorado Supreme Court decision overturned the Boulder campus’s ban on all firearms. In Colorado, if a person over 21-years-old obtains a concealed carry permit, he or she may carry a concealed handgun in any public place, which now includes Boulder’s classrooms, bookstores and administrative buildings.
The only places a student with a permit could not carry a firearm are Boulder’s undergraduate residence halls and any ticketed events, due to contractual agreements, according to University of Colorado-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard.
“If an undergraduate student wants to live on campus they have to sign a housing agreement, which serves as a contract, that states they will not carry a gun inside the residence hall,” Hilliard said. “A ticket serves the same purpose. It is a contract that states a person will not bring a gun inside the event, which includes football games, concerts or any other ticketed performance.”
Graduate students are allowed to store handguns in their graduate student apartments on campus if they can prove they can store the weapon safely, such as in a safe or lockable box, Hilliard said.
Hilliard noted the university did not want to implement the law on its campus.
“We fought this decision. We did not choose for this to be our policy,” Hilliard said. “But we have no choice but to follow state law.”
Bruce Ledewitz, Duquesne law professor, said Pennsylvania does not have a law in place that would allow a student to carry a firearm in a classroom of any university in the state, which are currently allowed to make their own weapons policies.
Ledewitz noted that some types of private property, including Duquesne, can be regulated by the state, meaning that if the state decided to implement a weapons policy similar to Colorado’s, Duquesne would have to abide by that policy.
He also said that under the guidelines of Duquesne’s current weapons policy he sees “no reason why” Duquesne police would not be permitted to escort someone off campus who was caught carrying a weapon.
Duquesne changed its policy on Feb. 16, 2011, banning all weapons from campus. Prior to the change, students with a concealed carry permit were allowed to store their firearm in a locker with public safety.
Before Duquesne alumnus Chad Stubenbort addressed Duquesne’s weapons policy at a November 2010 Tea Hour meeting, visitors to Duquense’s campus were allowed to carry a concealed firearm, but students were not. The policy was then changed to allow students with a permit to store their handgun with public safety, but was changed to ban all weapons two months later.
Stubenbort, who would carry his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol and store it in a locker with public safety, said he thinks Boulder’s new weapons policy is a better option than Duquesne’s current policy.
“A person shouldn’t be nervous just because they know they are around someone with a gun because they are around guns all the time, whether they’re aware of it or not,” Stubenbort said. “When you go to Giant Eagle, you’re not questioning whether people around you are carrying a gun, so I don’t see why you would on campus.”
A 2007 Pennsylvania State Police report stated that about 7 percent of Pennsylvanians over 21 years old have applied for a concealed carry permit.
Stubenbort also said people should not feel nervous around someone carrying a firearm on campus because for that person to be allowed to carry their weapon, they had to go through proper protocol. He added that he thinks Duquesne is doing its students a disservice by publically acknowledging its weapons ban.
“People who have a concealed carry permit have gone through a background check and have been properly trained, so the chances of them using those guns in an unlawful way are slim to none,” he said. “Duquesne is basically advertising that not one of its students is carrying a weapon while on campus, so anyone not affiliated with the University knows for a fact that if they come on campus with a gun, nobody will have the ability to defend themselves.”
Colorado State University has abided by Colorado’s law since it was implemented in 2003, and Colorado State Spokesman Mike Hooker said the university has never had an incident stemming from a student carrying a weapon on campus during that time.
But Tom Hart, Duquesne’s director of public safety, said he supports Duquesne’s policy.
“I support my superiors and will always follow the policy they have in place,” Hart said. “I do like our weapons policy.”
Hart could not discuss the procedures that would be taken if someone was caught carrying a weapon on campus, but said each case would be handled based on its severity.
“If someone is openly brandishing a weapon that person will definitely be handled differently than someone who was caught carrying a concealed weapon,” Hart said.