CSU officials weigh a gun ban; student leaders disagree
By Monte Whaley
The Denver Post
Posted: 12/02/2009 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 12/02/2009 05:54:10 AM MST
Public-safety experts at Colorado State University and the school president's cabinet all agree the campus needs a concealed-weapons ban.
CSU student leaders, however, say packing heat keeps everyone safer. They may move tonight to try to keep the university one of the few in the country where concealed weapons are allowed.
"I think really it's an issue of if it's not broken, why fix it," said Matt Strauch, spokesman for the Associated Students of CSU.
The ASCSU student senate tonight is likely to pass a resolution that asks CSU president Tony Frank to keep current policy, which adheres to the state's concealed-weapons law. It allows someone with a concealed-weapons permit to carry a handgun almost anywhere on campus.
Only in residence halls are weapons forbidden.
Frank will weigh the ASCSU vote in deciding whether to form a different weapons law for the university, said CSU spokesman Brad Bohlander.
Currently, 23 states allow public campuses or state systems to decide their own weapons policies, with nearly all choosing to be "gun-free," according to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
CSU is one of the rare exceptions, deciding in 2003 to follow the state's concealed-weapons law. The ASCSU points out that concealed weapons have been allowed at Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia since 1995 and at Michigan State University since June.
No bans in Utah
Utah is the only state that prohibits its state institutions from barring guns on campus, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities said.
Recent events such as the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007 prompted CSU's faculty senate last year to ask that CSU's concealed-weapons law be clarified, Bohlander said.
Both CSU's public safety team — which includes the campus police chief — and the president's Cabinet agreed in October that an almost total ban on weapons was prudent, Bohlander said. Exceptions would include security details for high-level visitors to the campus.
But students have overwhelmingly come out against concealed-weapons restrictions, Strauch said.
"I'm having a difficult time finding people really against keeping it as it is," he said.
The proposed student resolution — still being drafted Tuesday — said every shooting on a college or university campus in American has occurred on a campus that had banned students from legally carrying concealed weapons.
"A ban on students legally carrying concealed weapons leaves students defenseless in these situations," the resolution says, as well as leaving them vulnerable to rape, robbery and assault.
Physics professor Richard Eykholt — chair of the CSU faculty council — doesn't buy into the students' arguments.
"If you have a classroom situation where somebody starts shooting and other people are shooting back, there is a real opportunity there for more bystanders to be injured," said Eykholt, who spoke as an individual.
He added that perpetrators in school shootings seemed bent on killing themselves and others.
"I don't think they'd be deterred by threats of anyone having a gun," Eykholt said.