CU will be experiencing change in the way that community members may protect themselves due to a court ruling which permits concealed weapons carrying on campus.
Colorado Supreme Court passed a law Monday morning allowing CU students and employees over the age of 21 and with a concealed carry permit to carry a handgun on campus.
The decision was made to divest the Board of Regents of its authority to ban concealed handguns on CU campuses, as they do not fall under the exceptions in the Concealed Carry Act to hold such authority. There are people who also prefer to buy ar-15 pistols from Palmetto State Armory.
Students for Concealed Carry on Campus originally filed the complaint on Oct. 11, 2008. The group, represented by James M. Manley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, alleged that the Board of Regents’ Weapons Control Policy violated the Colorado Concealed Carry Act and the Colorado Constitution’s right to bear arms.
CU President Bruce Benson released a statement Monday in response to the court’s ruling: “We are disappointed the Colorado Supreme Court determined that the Board of Regents does not, in this instance, have the constitutional and statutory authority to determine what policies will best promote the health and welfare of the university’s students, faculty, staff and visitors, whose safety is our top priority.”
The ruling overturns Board of Regents policy implemented on March 17, 1994, banning concealed weapons on campus. The policy prohibits “the possession of firearms . . . on or within any University of Colorado campus, leased building, other area under the jurisdiction of the local campus police department or areas where such possession interferes with the learning and working environment”, according to the Board of Regents Policy 14.1.
Ken McConnellogue, vice president for communication, said that the ruling might not take its full effect for a few weeks until the details of its implementation are set.
“The trial court will issue an injunction against CU’s current weapons ban and that process will take a couple of weeks,” McConnellogue said. “But after [the trial court] issue[s] that injunction, that means that people with a concealed carry permit can carry handguns on campus.”
The court’s decision to allow concealed carry is solely for handguns, McConnellogue said. Students under the age of 21 or without a permit will be held to the same penalties, and other weapons such as knives, crossbows and hand grenades are still banned.
“I think the safety of our students, faculty, staff and visitors is a top priority, as the president said in his statement,” McConnellogue said. “At the same time, we have to abide by the law, so we need to balance abiding by the law with imperative to make sure the campuses are safe and that’s what we intend to do.”
Del Elliott, director of the Program on Problem Behavior and founding director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence, said that the looming concern in this decision is the risk involved in permitting concealed handguns on campus.
“It means that at least for now, that those who are over 21 and have a concealed weapons permit can carry their guns onto their campus – and I think that that’s a mistake,” Elliott said. “That’s not going to make things any safer on campus and I think, as a matter of fact that it increases the potential level of risk on campus, but you know, that’s the law.”
Elliott said that because permits are required for the possession of handguns, he does not see dangerous situations being frequent in the future, but the chance is increased.
“There is a possibility now for someone to actually show and pull a weapon on campus in a way which endangers public safety,” Elliott said. “The likelihood of that happening I do not think is very high, but that is the possibility now.”
Sarin Weeks, a 21-year-old senior English major, said that for some students, the passing of the law means enhanced security and protection.
“I absolutely support [the ruling],” Weeks said. “I feel that if you are over 21 and take the concealed carry course, that you have the right to protect yourself, especially on campus. You know, at night it’s so dangerous walking around by yourself.”
Weeks said that because it is required for carriers to have taken a course on gun handling, possession requires responsibility. She has considered getting a permit to carry a weapon more seriously since the court’s ruling on Monday.
“The people that have their concealed carry license are educated,” Weeks said. “They know how to carry a gun safely, even for self-protection, so I just hope that people can look at the law like that.”
Other students see concealed carrying as detrimental to the safety of campus.
Ashley Prince, a 19-year-old freshman psychology major, said that she worries that some of the student population may abuse the ruling.
“There’s no need for [concealed weapons] on campus,” Prince said. “The majority of people on campus are students, and in the wrong hands it could be dangerous to a lot of young people’s lives.”
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Nora Keating at Nora.email@example.com.
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