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    January 2014

    Firearms and Weapons Policies

    Is there a place for guns on campus? This is a not a question for the timid. Opinions are strong, and state legislatures are even weighing in. If your campus permits firearms and weapons, ensure that your policy is comprehensive and that it includes education and enforcement.

    Many members have asked us what a firearms and weapons policy should include. Here are some ideas for you to consider:

    Policies. Each institution should have a policy that directly addresses the possession and use of firearms and weapons on campus. Policies should include: a clear statement as to whether or not weapons are allowed on your campus, the purpose of the policy, groups the policy applies to, and finally a section on relevant procedures, such as proper gun storage on campus and exceptions to your policy. Keep the following in mind when drafting or revising your policy:

    • Your policy should apply to all segments of your campus population (students, staff, faculty, and so on). Broad coverage allows your campus safety officials to enforce the policy easily and effectively without first having to determine whether it covers a certain person.
    • The policy should address specifically the use of pellet, plastic, or other such guns, as community members may not realize they fall under your weapons policy.
    • Exceptions to the policy should be made on a case-by-case basis when deemed necessary by designated campus officials. Typical exceptions include campus safety officers, other law enforcement officials, and students when involved in specified school-sponsored activities.
    • Off-duty police officers from other jurisdictions should be encouraged to notify campus officials if they expect to be on campus for events or classes and plan on carrying firearms. Generally, states allow police officers to carry their firearms in any jurisdiction regardless of whether the officer is on duty.
    • Hunting or other university-sponsored sporting activities that involve weapons or firearms are recognized student activities on many campuses. Institutions should have policies that permit firearms on campus for these activities and should provide proper storage. For example, many schools have gun lockers in the campus safety offices, which allow for proper storage and prevent unauthorized students from gaining access.
    • Legal counsel should be consulted regarding applicable state law, particularly those related to the possession of firearms and other weapons. Some laws specifically include college campuses when banning firearms on “school grounds” throughout the state, while others do not.

    Additional Information
    For three examples of weapons policies, please refer to the following:

    Conceal and Carry Debate. Heated debates over gun laws are not new in our country, but they have recently focused more on our educational institutions. On campuses and in state legislatures, voices have loudly shouted pros and cons about permitting students, faculty, and staff to carry firearms on college and university grounds. Supporters say they are necessary for self-protection, and opponents say they would heighten the risk. The largest group organizing students in support of this issue is Students for Concealed Carry on Campus

    If a law passes in your state, it could result in changes not only to your school’s policy but also to your campus as a whole. It is important to keep up-to-date about the progress of this issue in your state and, if your institution feels strongly, to get involved in the process.

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