Wary of weapons

Feb 122009
Authors: Stephen Lin

Concerned that the current wording in CSU’s student conduct policy leaves room for misinterpretation, Faculty Council will aim to revamp its language in coming months to clarify that students with a permit are authorized to carry concealed weapons on campus.

CSU is one of 11 universities in the country that allows students to bring guns into the classroom, but the wording in the student conduct policy creates a sort of “grey area,” said Anne Hudgens, dean of students.

The student conduct policy prohibits the “use or possession on University property of firearms or simulated weapons; other weapons such as blades larger than pocket knives; ammunition or explosives; dangerous chemicals, substances, or materials; or bombs, or incendiary devices prohibited by law. Use of any such item, even if legally possessed, in a manner that harms, threatens, or causes fear to others (is prohibited).”

Students at CU-Boulder are pressing charges against their university, which prohibits any carry of firearms on campus regardless of whether the individual has obtained a concealed carry permit. The discussion in Boulder is leading CSU’s Faculty Council, which said CSU “doesn’t have a consistent weapons policy,” to push for its rewording.

“I don’t like the fact that the students are left in an awkward position,” said Richard Eykholt, Faculty Council chair, as currently, he said, the policy’s wording can be interpreted to say that concealed weapons are not permitted.

Hudgens said CSU’s policy is in accordance with the concealed carry permit law, meaning that as long as students legally obtain a concealed carry permit, they are allowed to have a firearm on campus. She said so long as students followed the last clause in the conduct policy and didn’t threaten others with a weapon, they would be fine.

The concealed carry law mandates that anyone wishing to obtain a weapons permit must be a Colorado resident 21 years or older, who has not had two or more alcohol-related convictions in the last 10 years, is not subject to a restraining order and is not an unlawful user of a controlled substance. Additionally, the applicant must either take a handgun class, have military or law enforcement service or be an instructor.

Eykholt, who said he was sensitive to both sides of the concealed carry debate — saying there were “valid arguments both ways” as students may have “a legitimate need for protection” — is delaying any discussion over the weapons policy until CU’s lawsuit is resolved.

CU’s weapons policy states “the possession of the firearms, explosives, or other dangerous or illegal weapons 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 is prohibited.”

Ken McConnellogue, associate vice president for University Relations at CU, said the students bringing the lawsuit contend that the “weapons policy is unconstitutional in light of Colorado’s concealed carry law.”

McConnellogue said that “police chiefs on each of CU’s campuses are strongly opposed to the lawsuit in favor of the current.”

CSU students interviewed said they are divided on the concealed carry policy.

Carmen Bellotti, a freshman animal sciences and equine sciences major, said “I don’t see the real need for a gun” and that having a weapon on campus was “totally unnecessary.”

“I’m in favor of it,” said Brian Smith, a senior natural resource management and forest fire science major. “I think (CSU) is blessed to have the policy in wake of (Virginia Tech) and other school shootings. It’s good to know that qualified individuals can defend themselves and their fellow classmates if something like that were to happen.”

Ethan Peer, a freshman construction management major, echoed Bellotti’s comments saying “I don’t think (students) should carry (weapons) to class.”

“You can have a gun but you can’t have alcohol (on campus)?” Peer asked.

Crime beat reporter Stephen Lin can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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