The University of Colorado is allowing its students to carry concealed guns with them on campus. As long as students are 21 or older and have a license to carry a weapon, they can bring guns with them to class, the bookstore, and the quad.
The state Supreme Court in March ruled against a 1994 campus ban on firearms. Guns are still banned from sporting events and in dorm rooms on the Boulder campus, but students who insist on having a gun with them at all times are able to request graduate level housing.
“Residence hall students who have a concealed carry permit or who obtain [one] under Colorado law during the housing contract period may seek to be relocated to a University Apartment (if space is available) or be released from the residence hall contract without financial penalty,” reads a statement by the university.
The new rules have caused concern among a number of parents and students of the university, who worry about their safety after gunman James Holmes shot 70 people in an Aurora theater this summer.
“I definitely would not feel safe if they allowed guns on campus, in the halls. I would not be comfortable with that at all,” Cindy Rosethal, a mother of a freshman at the university, told National Public Radio.
“Especially with what happened in Aurora a couple of weeks ago, and Virginia Tech, and all of the stuff that’s happened on college campuses now… You never know what’s going to happen,” said incoming freshman Joe Ramsburger.
On Tuesday, Professor Jerry Paterson threatened to cancel class if he knew of any of his students carrying a firearm in his presence.
In response, the university’s chancellor, Phillip DiStefano, threatened disciplinary action against faculty who prohibited their students from carrying guns in class.
“I believe we have taken reasonable steps to adhere to the ruling of the Colorado Supreme Court, while balancing that with the priority of providing a safe environment for our students, faculty and staff,” the chancellor said in a statement.
While some are fearful of a possible increased presence of guns on campus, others say that allowing guns is necessary for individuals’ safety – and that allowing concealed firearms would not cause a spike in firearm-related crimes.
“The Aurora theater where the Batman shooting occurred also had a gun-free policy,” said Jim Manley, an attorney who argued against banning guns on the Colorado university’s campus. “But these policies don’t disarm criminals, they disarm law-abiding citizens who see the sign and respect the law and say, ‘I’m not going to carry in this place because the law doesn’t allow it.’”
Deb Coffin, vice chancellor for student affairs, said those with a gun permit know how to use the weapon they carry, and thereby would be less likely to cause a shooting. She said the university’s concern is about those not experienced or trained in the use of a handgun.
The university also claims that 96 percent of its undergraduates living in dormitories are under the age of 21, and thus ineligible to have a permit for a firearm. The new regulations would therefore only affect a small portion of on-campus undergraduate residents, the statement read.
The majority of the more than 4,000 US colleges prevent carrying guns on campus, but about 25 schools already allow them, according toarmedcampuses.org.