COLORADO SPRINGS, August 21, 2012 – The University of Colorado, Boulder announced last Thursday that students with concealed carry permits would be segregated into a separate residence hall where graduate students reside. This follows a Colorado Supreme Court ruling on March 5th that confirmed students’ rights to carry concealed on the university.
Students begin moving into dorms today.
The case against University of Colorado was brought by Students for Concealed Carry, a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization that advocates for legal concealed carry on college campuses. Prior to the ruling, the university had banned concealed carry even though permit holders had complied with Colorado law to obtain the permits.
When the current concealed carry law was passed in 2003, the intent was to allow students to carry on campus, according to State Senator Ted Harvey who participated in the debate. Only a few campuses chose to defy the law and ban concealed carry, thus causing the suit by Students for Concealed Carry.
In Colorado, concealed carry permits are obtained from the county sheriff after passing a concealed carry class taught by certified instructors, a background check, being fingerprinted and paying more than $200 in state and county fees.
Permit holders also need to be over 21.
Stymied by the Court, the university has settled on a policy of segregation that its lawyers feel will pass legal muster. Guns will also be banned from athletic and cultural events on campus as well as from other dorms. The university says that students in university-owned housing are entering into a landlord-tenant relationship with the university and that gives them the right to restrict lawful concealed carry.
Students would have to store their firearms with the police or elsewhere securely, but it is unclear that the university would provide facilities for them to do so.
If students don’t keep their permitted firearms in the dorms they are restricted to, what is the point of the restriction?
In the statement announcing the policy, the university noted that only about 4% of their students are over 21 anyway, and that they expected that only about 1% had permits. They have made provision for 50 students in the restricted dorms. There are over 32,000 students at the university.
Other questions arise.
If the university had announced that gay students would be allowed on campus but that they would be restricted to just one dorm, would that have been legal? After all, the gay population is less than 4% and among students it might be as little as 1%. Like concealed carry permit holders, would they have to disclose to the university that they are gay? Would there be a sanction if they did not? Would there be any controversy?
University of Colorado, Boulder has an anti-gun history. The campus carry ban began in 1994 and was only overruled this March. In response to the Supreme Court ruling, University of Colorado Professor Jerry Peterson, chairman of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, told the Boulder Daily Camera that, under his own “personal policy,” he plans to cancel class if he ever learns any of his students are carrying firearms.
However, University of Colorado’s Phil DiStefano notified the Boulder campus faculty Tuesday afternoon that professors “do not have the right to shut down a class or refuse to teach” under those circumstances.
Does the fact that a student has a permit make him or her subject to these rules? What if, despite the permit, that person is not carrying? Since concealed carry means concealed, how does the university know if a student has carried into a firearms-restricted area? Professor Peterson’s brave policy on canceling class has never been invoked, he says. That doesn’t mean that no one has ever carried a firearm into his physics classes.
What makes these restrictions even more problematic is that faculty and staff also have concealed carry permits. There are apparently no restrictions on these people, and they have gone through the same permitting process as the students.
The assumption seems to be that students with firearms, despite being legally vetted, are somehow more dangerous simply because they have chosen to be armed.
David Burnett, director of public relations for Students for Concealed carry, said after the Colorado Supreme Court ruling, “Gun-free policies are an open invitation to psychopaths. Signs on the doors are an unenforceable lie that only robs licensed citizens of their ability to defend themselves. Until colleges can guarantee our safety, they can’t criminalize self-defense.”
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