Everyone remembers Virginia Tech, the 2007 massacre which claimed the lives of 33 people and sparked a national conversation about gun control. Since then, a number of states have considered legislation to address guns on college campuses.
For some, campus shootings underscore the role concealed weapons can play in preventing gun violence. For others, these tragedies demonstrate the need for stricter gun laws.
Most recently, the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs decided to segregate students with concealed carry permits, The Denver Post reported. The schools announced on August 16 that guns will be banned in all dormitories on both campuses, except for designated residential areas set aside for students who are over 21 and possess a valid permit.
NCSL does not know of any other American universities that segregate students who carry guns on campus.
The decision is seen as a reaction to the Colorado Supreme Court, which ruled in March that the UC’s policy banning guns on campus violated state law.
The interplay between states, courts, and university administrators is not unique to Colorado. In September 2011, the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned the Oregon University System’s longstanding ban of guns on campuses, allowing students with permits to carry concealed weapons. The court held that the university overstepped its authority, as state law says only the legislature can regulate firearms.
NCSL tracks developments in campus gun laws. Currently, 21 states ban concealed weapons on college campuses, while 24 states let universities decide how to handle the issue. Five states – Colorado, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin – have provisions allowing at least some degree of concealed carry on college campuses.
Mississippi’s law, enacted last year, created an exemption to allow concealed carry on campuses for those who complete a gun safety course. Also enacted in 2011, a Wisconsin law that requires colleges to allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus grounds, with the caveat that schools can prohibit weapons from certain campus buildings. Utah is the only state to explicitly allow the unrestricted carrying of concealed weapons on college campuses.
In 2012, 16 states introduced legislation to allow some form of concealed carry on college campuses. Three states also introduced legislation in 2012 to bar concealed carry on campus. While none of these most recent bills have passed, concealed carry on college campuses will likely remain a hot state issue for the foreseeable future.