Chiefs of Police Association: College campuses should have the right to set gun policies
The contentious debate over the rights of permit-holders to bring guns onto college campuses was back in the spotlight last week with news that a University of Colorado staffer accidentally fired her handgun, injuring herself and a colleague. Now a representative of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police says it's clear that colleges should have the right to make their own gun policies.
The issue of how campuses can regulate guns in Colorado got a lot of attention in the state surrounding a long battle, led by a student group, to allow those with concealed-carry permits to bring guns on to campuses. That national organization, Students for Concealed Carry, won the fight when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in March that CU had to respect the rights of permitted gun-holders. It was a big shift in on-campus policy, given the fact that two years earlier, CU-Boulder had added Nerf guns to its weapons ban.
Since the March ruling, the discussion of its ramifications has ranged from how officials can regulate guns in dormitories and at campus events to what rights professors have to cancel a lecture if students bring guns into a classroom.
One of the main arguments of the gun rights' groups is that concealed-carry permit holders have guns on them everywhere else, so it becomes discriminatory, and even dangerous, to ban them from carrying on a college campus. Plus, opponents of gun bans say, those with permits have gone through necessary processes that ensure they are properly trained and understand necessary safety precautions.
Groups pushing for stricter gun policies are now going after the latter part of the pro-gun argument, pointing to an incident last week when a woman with her proper license pulled out her handgun in a CU office and accidentally fired a shot that injured her hand and also hit another woman in the leg. She is no longer employed at the university.
Students for Concealed Carry says that unfortunate incident was the mistake of one individual who should face necessary consequences, but it does not justify taking rights away from responsible licensed individuals. Still, a spokesman from that group told us, he is worried that the accident will open up the door to renewed calls for a ban.
And those calls are coming.
John Jackson, chief of police in Greenwood Village and the legislative chair of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, says that while it is not his job to call for a statewide ban on guns on college campuses, he believes institutions should have the right to set policy.
"We are concerned about public safety. That's where we are going to side all the time," says Jackson. "We are interested in the safety of the entire society as opposed to one person."
Continue for the rest of our interview with John Jackson.