Anti-Gun Group Targets Campus Firearms Policies

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

(Editor's note: The following report is presented for informational purposes; comment from pro-Second Amendment groups was not immediately available.)

- An anti-gun group says it has surveyed gun possession policies at more than 150 "prestigious" colleges and universities, discovering "a broad array" of policies, some of which might disturb parents whose teenagers are now applying to colleges.

"Parents wanting learning environments that are safe and secure have a right to know if they are sending their children to campuses that allow students access to weapons 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance For Justice. AFJ conducted the survey in conjunction with its student-led group, Gun Industry Watch.

The survey found that 82 of the 150 schools surveyed fell into the "zero tolerance" category, meaning the possession of firearms is strictly prohibited.

Twenty-seven schools fell into the "authorized use" category, which restricts student firearms possession to members of the ROTC, rifle team, or a specific school activity.

Twenty-five schools fell into the "campus storage" category, meaning that guns are prohibited, unless they are stored in a university-sanctioned facility.

Twenty-two schools said students must have prior permission to bring a gun onto campus; and five schools required firearms to be registered with the university.

The Alliance for Justice said it plans to distribute its findings as part of a reference guide for the parents of high school students.

But, in a press release, the AFJ said numbers don't tell the whole story. The group urged parents to "look beyond a university's stated policy and ask questions about enforcement of that policy."

AFJ says it found that enforcement of campus gun policies was inconsistent from campus to campus, and completely "lax" at certain schools, including the University of New Hampshire, Brigham Young University, the University of Idaho, Montana State University, and the University of Tennessee.

"We wish that all colleges and universities would adopt zero tolerance policies when it comes to guns on campus," said Aron in a press release. In the meantime, parents and students have a right to know about the availability of deadly weapons on campuses."

The AFJ also expressed concern that students in some gun-friendly states are challenging the more restrictive gun policies of the colleges they attend.

As examples, AFJ noted that in Utah, the state attorney general is challenging the University of Utah's strict gun possession policy; and in Virginia, students at George Mason University are using that state's lenient concealed carry law to challenge the university's more restrictive gun policy.

"Clearly, there is an emerging trend to challenge the right of campus administrators to determine gun policies," said Aron. "We believe it is the duty of college administrators to regulate the
possession of deadly weapons and protect the safety of students."

According to AFJ, a recent Harvard University study found that only 4.3 percent of U.S. college students own a firearm, which translates into about 450,000 students nationwide.

See Earlier Story:
Students Want to Pack Heat (31 Jan. 2002)