Questions Colleges Must Ask When Creating a Concealed Carry Policy
Here’s a list of questions for campus officials to consider when creating a concealed carry policy for allowing guns on campus.
States have long allowed citizens to carry concealed weapons if they meet certain requirements, but an increasing number of states are putting public college and university officials in the difficult position of creating a concealed carry policy to adhere to new laws.
The list of states that allow guns on college campuses is growing. There are currently ten states where public colleges must have concealed carry policies. They are:
Granted, there are many nuances to each state’s law that make them all a bit different (Kansas, for instance, allows public colleges to ban guns in campus buildings that have adequate security, and Wisconsin allows colleges to prohibit weapons if they have signs at every entrance of a building forbidding weapons).
Whether a concealed carry law has passed in your state, is close to passing or even if some rogue lawmaker has started expressing interest in proposing campus carry legislation, college officials should start to consider how their campuses would implement such a rule.
Of course, a legislative proposal is far from a law, and as a bill moves through legislative chambers innumerable amendments and stipulations may be added. This means that following legislative advances obsessively is probably not the best use of college officials’ time.
Still, being prepared for what’s coming makes the planning and implementation of a concealed carry policy much easier, particularly if it goes into effect soon after it’s been signed into law (most laws give colleges time to give input on the legislation and craft policies around it).
Critical Concealed Carry Questions to Ask
The following is a list of questions taken from the National Center for Campus Public Safety’s report Policy Development and Implementation of Legislation Permitting the Carrying of Concealed Handguns on College and University Campuses: Promising Practices.
- What buildings/areas may lawfully be excluded from the carrying of handguns, and what criteria can lawfully be used to justify that exclusion?
- What should be communicated to the campus community—faculty, staff, and students—about concealed carry on campus, and what are the best methods to communicate the message?
- How do we dissuade fears of increased handguns on campus that may be expressed by members of the campus community while at the same time reassuring statutory and constitutional protections for those who elect to exercise their concealed carry privilege?
- What are the fiscal and logistical impacts of a concealed carry policy on campus?
- What are the guidelines and thresholds for making campus events exclusion zones?
- What is the rationale for the criteria, and how is that rationale consistent with state law that authorizes campus carry?
- What potential institutional liabilities may be exposed to the institution with a concealed carry policy?
- How can those liabilities be minimized while staying in compliance with the state law?
- What are the best methods of educating campus visitors about the concealed carry policy?
- What sanctions or alternatives can or should be applied for noncampus-affiliated visitors who have a concealed carry permit but violate campus policy?
- In developing the policy, what restrictions or exclusions should be applied to faculty, staff, and students?
- Are those restrictions the same?
- What is the rationale for the restrictions?
- What are the sanctions for faculty, staff, and students for violating the policy?
- Is there discretion for the sanctions or is it a no tolerance policy?
- What kind of training is needed for law enforcement or public safety personnel associated with concealed carry on campus?
- What kind of training needs to be presented on stopping a person (i.e., reasonable grounds) following a concealed handgun call or observation and the circumstances that warrant an encounter?
- What kind of training needs to be offered on the process of encountering a person who may be armed?
- What kind of training needs to be presented on how to handle complaints from campus community members who “simply do not like” concealed carry?
- What kind of training needs to be offered on balancing the actions of those who are lawfully carrying a concealed handgun and those who carry a handgun into an exclusion zone as a “protest,” not a threat?
- Should training be provided or made available for those who have concealed carry permits on how to react to an active shooter on campus, including encountering the police response?
- What cooperation, communications, and logistical factors are needed with the law enforcement agency in the host community?
These questions are a good start for colleges, but if campus officials want to dive deeper into creating a concealed carry policy they can check out our Roadmap for Colleges Creating Concealed Carry Policies on Campus.
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