To the dismay of student leaders and local law enforcement officials, CSU students may not be packing heat for much longer.
The CSU System Board of Governors determined unanimously during Friday’s meeting in Denver that it is in the best interest of the Fort Collins and Pueblo campuses to axe concealed carry on both.
“This (ban) could put a bad taste into certain peoples’ mouths,” said Dan Gearhart, president of the Associated Students of CSU, who said during the meeting that the board should keep the current policy.
The BOG gave Fort Collins President Tony Frank and Pueblo President Joe Garcia orders to formulate overt policies specifically tailored to each campus due to the board in February, said Brad Bohlander, CSU’s chief spokesperson. The ban will take effect after the BOG approves the policies.
Frank said Friday in a phone interview that he will use a recommendation from CSU’s Public Safety Team as a starting point for his final draft.
But, no matter how Frank maps out his policy, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden, CSU alumnus and former CSUPD officer, won’t help the university enforce the ban.
Alderden said that, while he estimates a very small percentage of the CSU community carries concealed weapons, every law-abiding citizen should be able to exercise the right.
Fort Collins district attorney Larry Abrahamson said that, because the rule will not be mandated by the state or the county, law enforcement officials will not have direct purview over enforcement.
“There has to be a violation of the law before (Sheriff Alderden) can get involved,” Abrahamson said.
Alderden said he thought CSU would likely pin people who carry a concealed weapon on campus for trespassing, but said he wouldn’t detain any valid license holder.
“They ain’t coming in my jail,” he said.
Alderden technically has the authority to revoke concealed carry permits, but said he would not do so with people who violate CSU’s new policy.
The ban rides the coattails of CSU Faculty Council’s request of a policy review last semester after the infamous shootings at Virginia Tech and the University of Northern Illinois.
Frank assigned the task of researching concealed carry to the Public Safety Team, which recommended a ban be placed on concealed weapons earlier this semester.
Dan Turk, CSU’s faculty liaison to the BOG said he was not aware of a single faculty member who opposes ban.
The issue had not yet come up in CSU-Pueblo Faculty Council meetings, said Scott Eriksen, Pueblo’s faculty representative on the board.
Both Turk and Eriksen are non-voting members on the board.
ASCSU fought a two-month battle to keep CSU gun friendly, citing the fact that no shootings have ever occurred on a campus that allowed concealed carry.
“Concealed carry empowers the powerless,” said David Ambrose, an ASCSU senator who coauthored a resolution supporting the current policy that was approved by the Senate last week.
Ed Haselden, BOG vice-chair, said that while he is an advocate of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, it is the job of the BOG to anticipate the proposed risks of allowing concealed carry on the system campuses.
“Did anybody try to hypothesize the what if?” Haselden asked, offering the possibility of an accidental shooting in a classroom.
Fielding questions about ASCSU’s information gathering process in drafting its resolution, Ambrose said student government didn’t have time to conduct scientific student voice surveys, but had received much support of the current policy from students.
Ambrose said he had received more than 100 e-mails and about 100 written letters, including two from state legislators, in support of concealed carry on campus.
Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, wrote: “As a former student of Colorado State University, it saddens me to see that my alma mater is considering banning concealed carry by law-abiding citizens on campus, which would effectively take away their right to self defense.”
Rep. Cory Gardener, R-Yuma, and minority whip, wrote: “For those who would deny law abiding citizens the right of self defense, I simply point to the numbers. The statistics are clear: the presence of legal, concealed firearms does not increase crime, nor does it prompt it. In fact, it deters crime.”
No letters were received in support of a ban.
“I was waiting for that student. He or she never came,” Ambrose said.
CSU-Pueblo student body President Steve Titus, expressed personal distaste for concealed carry on campus, but said students at Pueblo have yet to establish an official stance on the issue.
“They want more of the meat and potatoes of the issue,” Titus said.
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities called CSU an exception to concealed carry prohibition, citing that:
26 states ban concealed carry on campus, even with a valid permit,
23 states, including Colorado, allow individual institutions to develop policies, and
Utah is the only state that prohibits state schools from banning guns.
Senior reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.