University of Colorado Says Guns Okay on Campus, Not in Dorms
The University of Colorado in Boulder has revised its rules for carrying firearms on campus, after the state Supreme Court ruled in March that the school cannot maintain a blanket ban on guns for students who have concealed carry permits. Under the new rules, guns will still not be allowed in the dormitories, with certain exceptions for family housing units.
Thanks to the Concealed Carry Act the state passed in 2003, residents with permits are free to carry their weapons on most public property, and the court ruling affirmed that the state university is no exception. Now that the school has issued its new rules, gun rights advocates are considering whether the dormitory ban is still in violation of the law.
“The Supreme Court said in March that CU has no authority to regulate concealed carry,” says James Manley, staff attorney for the Mountain States Legal Foundation, which helped a student group sue the school for more expansive gun rights. “That’s why we have some concerns about the policy and how it’s implemented.”
The 2003 law grants four exceptions where licensed permit holders can be barred from taking their guns:
- Kindergarten through 12th grade schools
- Any public building with a metal detector and security personnel specifically in place to keep weapons out
- Anywhere federal law prohibits firearms
- Private property where the owner does not want guests to carry firearms
“If you have a permit, you can carry a concealed weapon on campus, as long as it’s hidden away from view, and you can even have it with you in class,” a university police spokesperson told a local television station. “What you cannot do is have it on you at a ticketed event, such as football games, or in any of the residence halls on campus.”
Question of Authority
The university initially fought guns on campus by claiming it was an authority with legislative powers over certain geographic areas. Since the Supreme Court said no go, they have taken a different tack to keep guns out of dorms.
“As I understand it, what they’re trying to do is let the people living in the dorms to sign an addendum to their renting agreement to say that residents won’t carry,” Manley says. “For those folks that object to that, CU is assigning them to particular dorms.”
The school has said their rule is similar to that of military establishments that do not allow weapons in the barracks.
According to the rules, gun-owning students in the special family housing units will have to lock their guns in a safe when they leave them behind in the residence. Students may also leave their weapons locked in a safe with the university police department.
For all the legal wrangling, the practical effect of the rule could be less than substantial, since residents have to be 21 or over to be granted a concealed carry permit. Fewer than one percent of faculty, staff and students have a permit, according to a university estimate.
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“All of these dorm policies have to be in context,” Manley says. “In a sense, this is a policy in search of a problem. Twenty-one-year-olds are generally not living in the dorms.”
The Legal Foundation has not yet decided if they will pursue further litigation to challenge the school’s new policy.
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