The topic of concealed weapons on campus will once again be in discussion this week as a second town hall meeting is being held in response to several requests from the CU community.
A Town Hall meeting on the Concealed Carry Act (CCA), which is open to all CU faculty, students and staff, will be held Wednesday at 12 p.m. in the UMC Aspen Room. The meeting will be an informational question and answer session with CU administrators Chancellor DiStefano, Provost Moore, Managing Senior Associate Counsel John Sleeman and CUPD Commander Robert Axmacher.
Last March, a Supreme Court ruling overturned the Board of Regents’ ability to set weapons policies outside of the 2003 Colorado Concealed Carry Act. The ruling made it legal for concealed carry permit holders over the age of 21 to carry concealed firearms on campus.
The first campus town hall meeting regarding concealed carry took place Sept. 4. State Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, also held a meeting in Sept. 21 to speak with interested faculty members regarding her initiative to constitutionally restore the power to set weapons policies back to the Board of Regents.
The proposed bill is currently in the discussion phase. Levy said she would sponsor the bill in the 2013 legislative session, which begins Jan. 9.
Susan Kent, chair of the history department, said that the faculty’s meeting with Levy was largely informational.
“Representative Levy wanted to talk to us about how she could best present a bill that would have some chance of successfully passing,” Kent said. “The first step is getting that power back into the hands of the regents.”
Greg Pruett, a 22-year-old senior economics and ethnic studies major, said he agrees that the regents should have the authority to set weapons policies.
“[The Board of Regents] represents the student body more closely than the state does,” Pruett said.
A three-pronged initiative was started by the Boulder Faculty Assembly, the Arts and Sciences Council and the rest of the departments and colleges on campus after meeting with Levy in September. All three entities are being asked to vote on a resolution, which reads as:
“We, the faculty members of the University of Colorado, urge our senior administrators to support our efforts to return to the university its long-standing power to make decisions regarding the rights of people to carry concealed weapons on our campuses.”
In April 2010, the Boulder Faculty Assembly adopted and approved a resolution with university administration and the Board of Regents to maintain a weapons-free status for the university.
Rei Ikuta, a 23-year-old first year graduate student linguistics major from Japan, said that a weapons-free campus would make some students more comfortable.
“I’ve never seen a gun except for the ones carried by police officers so I still don’t believe that people actually carry guns,” Ikuta said. “I think that if I see a gun in someone’s bag, it’s going to freak me out because a gun is a weapon to kill. I don’t have the background thinking a gun protects you. For Americans, I can understand that they think guns are the primary means to protect themselves.”
However, Ikuta said that he doesn’t necessarily believe that the regents creating their own gun policies will create a safe environment overall.
“The state should have the authority [to create gun policies] because the issue of gun control isn’t just about campus – it is about the security of the nation and also about ideologies in America,” Ikuta said. “One gun on campus is one gun in the country and no guns on campus doesn’t mean no guns in the country. It’s not what a limited number of people get to decide.”
Henry Jackson, a 19-year-old sophomore mechanical engineering major, believes that the current gun policies should stay intact.
“It should be up to the state because if guns are controlled on a state level, it makes it harder for random shootings to happen because the ease of access to a weapon is more difficult; controlling guns in a small area leaves that area more vulnerable to a random shooting,” Jackson said.
However, the presence of concealed firearms on campus also concerns many faculty members about students’ safety along with their own.
“The university is a place of learning, where sometimes we push students farther than they feel comfortable being pushed; where we engage them in controversial discussions (depending on the department, in areas such as global warming, abortion, race, stem cell research, creationism, evolution); where provocation can sometimes be the norm; and where, through our grading, we judge students, sometimes harshly,” Kent said. “The potential presence of firearms in our classrooms and hallways and offices–in the Dalton Trumbo plaza and others sites like it–changes the dynamics of learning, and interferes with our ability to carry out our educational mission.”
According to law Professor Richard Collins, the passing of Levy’s bill is primarily dependent on two things.
“There are two levels of feasibility,” Collins said. “Will she [Levy] be able to get this through state legislature? This may depend heavily on who is elected next month. Also, how effective is gun control? This has been an ongoing debate.”
CU spokesperson Bronson Hilliard, said that Wednesday’s town hall meeting seems necessary in order to address issues revolving around concealed carry, which has been in the headlines in local and national media.
“It’s important for anyone to attend who is interested in learning about the Concealed Carry Act,” Hilliard said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alexandria Aguerre at Alexandria.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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