Gun ban in college buildings?: Boulder rep plans legislation despite court ruling
It just doesn't make sense for lawmakers to allow guns on college campuses, where the risks of suicide or shootings tied to mental health illness can be high. At least that's an argument of Boulder Representative Claire Levy, who is crafting legislation that would add campus buildings to the list of places where concealed-carry weapons are banned in Colorado.
Her opponents say the law would only make colleges more dangerous.
Levy, a Democrat, plans to introduce the legislation next cycle, which begins in January -- and the proposal is likely to stir up a good deal of controversy. That's in part because of the ongoing debate around access to guns on campus that stems back to a Colorado Supreme Court ruling in the spring.
After a long battle led by a student gun-rights group to allow those with concealed-carry permits to bring guns on to campuses, the court ordered the University of Colorado to respect the rights of permitted gun-holders. That meant university officials had to allow guns on campus -- just two years after it had banned Nerf guns.
The debate continued as CU-Boulder later made it clear that guns were not allowed in dormitories or at ticketed events -- although there is an on-campus-housing option for concealed carry holders. (No one has used it yet.) And even if professors are uncomfortable with their students bringing guns to their classrooms, there's not much they can legally do about it.
Add the high-profile Aurora theater shooting to the discussion and the debate around gun policy in Colorado is one that gets people, well, fired up.
Levy is expecting push-back to her proposal.
"I anticipate that it will be very controversial. I would be surprised if I get bipartisan support," she says. "I always look for that. I'm not going to rule it out, but I'm not gonna count on it, either."
Levy's legislation would amend the Concealed Carry Act to add buildings on public college campuses to the list of places where guns are not allowed. The Colorado Supreme Court ruling that university officials must allow guns on campuses was essentially a clarification of that law's scope, but Levy's proposal would change the measure to include campus buildings.
Representative Claire Levy
Levy says she'll be careful to specify campus buildings and not campuses on the whole, since some of Colorado's public campuses are integrated into the surrounding environments.
Originally, Levy was exploring options for a proposal that would give the Board of Regents, the governing boards of the university, the authority to set their own policies around guns -- meaning they could ban concealed-carry weapons in their buildings if they wanted to, but they wouldn't be required to do so.
But she eventually decided that it made more sense to propose a flat-out ban, so boards charged with campus oversight and policy would not have to carry the burden of these debates.
"I don't want the gun issue to overshadow the decisions that the governing bodies have to make -- setting tuition...about college affordability...about education policy," Levy says. "Given how these [gun issues] tend to be lightening rods...they really have the potential to overshadow what they do."
Levy also decided it made more sense to directly address her major concern: Guns on campuses add unnecessary danger, she believes.
"More importantly, the more I thought about it, and the more I talked about it with students, parents and faculty members, I think we should not allow concealed weapons on campus," she says. "I thought we ought to go straight to the issue and deal with it head-on."
Her case may have been bolstered by an incident last month in which a University of Colorado staffer accidentally fired a shot in an office, causing minor injuries to herself and a colleague. The staffer had a concealed-carry permit.
"It's just one more of many circumstances that convinced me that it's the right thing to do," says Levy.
Continue to see comments from Students for Concealed Carry and a CU official.