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States Announce 2020 Campus Carry Legislation

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As legislative assemblies get underway for 2020, ten states have announced some form of legislation to repeal bans on defensive concealed carry for campus patrons.

Oklahoma, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Tennessee, Iowa, West Virginia, and Wyoming have introduced or pending legislation which would empower permitted citizens to carry a concealed firearm while on campus, if they have satisfied state requirements to obtain a concealed weapons license.

Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s SB 1567 was introduced by Sen. Nathan Dahm. “When we talk about our university campuses, one thing that we hear is that there are a lot of places where assaults happen, especially against women,” Dahm told Fox25. “Well, when a woman has a firearm that is a great equalizer.”

In contrast, House Majority Leader Jon Echols vowed never to give the bill a hearing. Speaking to OklahomaWatch.org, Echols said “I am A+ National Rifle Association rated and A++ Oklahoma Second Amendment Association rated. I carried (last year’s) constitutional carry bill. But as long as I’m floor leader, we will not have a guns-on-campus bill hit the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.”

(Oklahoma residents can contact their representatives at this address)

Florida
Florida’s House Bill 6001, introduced by Rep. Anthony Sabatini, “removes provision prohibiting concealed carry licensees from openly carrying handgun or carrying concealed weapon or firearm into college or university facility.”

Supporting the bill, Rep. Sabtatini tweeted, “The arbitrary restriction against CWP [concealed weapons permit] holders carrying on college campuses is likely the most irrational law in the Florida Statutes. I challenge anyone to find a specific and valid factual argument to support it — none exists.”

Florida Education Association President Fedrick Ingram told Florida A&M’s student paper, “Colleges and universities are safe havens for students. They shouldn’t have to worry about who the other student is with a gun.”

(Florida residents wishing to voice their support for the bill can find their representative addresses here)

Michigan
In Michigan, House Bill 4771 is part of a five-bill package to loosen the legal hurdles imposed on Michigan residents about obtaining permits and where they can carry, including removing college campuses from pistol-free zones. The bills were passed out of the House Military, Veterans and Homeland Security Committee in October 2019.

(To contact your Michigan representative about campus carry, click here)

Tennessee
Tennessee’s HB 2102 sponsored by Rep. Rush Bricken would remove prohibitions against campus carry for “registered students of public institutions of higher education.” The language of the bill suggests it would be limited to registered students only, though note that Tennessee decriminalized carry by faculty and staff four years ago.

(Click here to locate your Tennessee representative and support campus carry)

Iowa
In Iowa, SB 459 would relax bans on persons keeping lawful, concealed firearms locked in their cars, including locations such as college campuses.

(Iowa residents wishing to express their support for overturning “car carry” bans should locate their legislators here)

Kentucky
House Bill 529 was introduced on Feb. 28 repealing Kentucky statutes permitting colleges to make their own rules regarding campus carry.

(Click here to send Kentucky representatives your support for campus carry!)

West Virginia
SB 730, the Campus Self Defense Act would allow licensed permit-holders to carry on campus (subject to multiple zone restrictions such as daycare centers, K-12 schools, or where prohibited by state/federal law), and where colleges wish to restrict carry, they must have “adequate security measures” in place.

(West Virginia residents wanting to urge their representatives to support campus carry can locate and contact their legislators here)

Missouri
Missouri SB 663 would permit campus carry for licensed individuals under Missouri law. At least one local police chief expressed his opposition because persons authorized to carry could drop their guns in a manner similar to the way he himself dropped a gun at a restaurant while removing his jacket.

(Supporters wishing to express support for the bill can locate their Missouri rep here.)

Wyoming
Wyoming saw the introduction of HB 180, the “Repeal Gun-Free Zones” Act which would have permitted campus carry. According to media reports, the bill was killed in committee. Its status is still listed as referred to committee online.

Illinois
Illinois has filed HB 4877 which would allow a very limited number of people (similar to school armed guards or faculty) to be armed on college campuses. 

Last year, at least nine states considered some form of “campus carry” legislation, including West Virginia, Arizona, Missouri, South Dakota, Florida, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Kentucky and New York, while bills aimed at repealing campus carry failed in Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, and Oregon.

“It’s exciting to see so many legislators prioritize the rights of college students,” said David Burnett, a spokesman with Students for Concealed Carry. “In recent years, we’ve helped overturn useless and discriminatory bans on concealed carry in over a dozen states. The predictions that this would increase danger to campuses have proven to be complete nonsense.”

“Colleges, particularly the ones advertising themselves as ‘gun-free’, have proven a vulnerable and attractive target for psychopaths preying on defenseless victims,” Burnett added. “Banning self-defense is the problem, not the solution. We’re going to keep fighting for the rights of properly-credentialed students, faculty and staff to defend themselves on campus.”

For media inquiries related to pending litigation, contact PR Director David Burnett, David.Burnett@concealedcampus.org.

Why Race Matters—and Doesn’t—for Campus Carry

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As communities and law enforcement continue to grapple with complex issues of prejudice, victimization and inequality, advocates of armed self-defense on campus enjoy a peculiar immunity to the controversy.

This isn’t through neglect of valid complaints or legitimate causes, but because of the universality of our message: there is no race, gender, orientation or class that is excluded from the right to self-defense. All lives are worthy of protection.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, minorities are increasingly joining the college experience, with college enrollment rates for African American students increasing from 31 to 37 percent since 2000, and Hispanics from 22 to 36 percent.

As Students for Concealed Carry has asserted, college students are subject to unique threats in the college environment. Minorities are hardly exempt from these threats: according to one report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, African Americans were victims of robbery and violent crimes at higher rates than white students. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that 38 percent of hate crimes on college campuses in 2016 were motivated by race.

Victims of mass shootings are as diverse as the colleges they attend. Victims from the Virginia Tech shooting, for example, illustrate a profound diversity including African Americans, and immigrants from China, Egypt, India, Peru, Puerto Rico, Romania and Indonesia, as well as students of Lebanese and Korean descent. Members of all races are united in the college classroom – and in the increased threats created through rules forbidding self-defense.

Antonia Okafor, a former representative for SCC who now works as the Director of Outreach for Gun Owners of America, has routinely advocated about campus carry. In writing for the Austin American-Statesman, Okafor wrote:

Criminals who might target me because of my race or my gender — just like the criminals who might target someone because of the person’s religion or sexual orientation — have no qualms about breaking an honor-system-based gun ban. Campus carry isn’t about arming dangerous bigots; it’s about ensuring that I’m able to defend myself if confronted by one. … I don’t think it’s a racist or radically libertarian idea to suggest that the buildings at a state college should operate under the same laws as the buildings at any other state institution. … I’m not concerned about the racial ideology of someone who has gone through the training, testing, and extensive state and federal background checks to obtain a concealed handgun license. I’m worried about the racial ideology of the criminals and lunatics willing to ignore the state laws and school policies that currently render me defenseless.

African Americans have shown an increasing support for armed self-defense, increasing ownership of firearms and according to some research, have outpaced white persons by 30 percent in obtaining concealed carry permits.

As minorities increasingly share in the college experience, they increasingly share in the threats generated by bans on self-protection – usually generated by administrations where minorities are underrepresented.

Racism and prejudice have no place in the dialog surrounding campus carry. All are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life and liberty.

As cities and colleges are beginning to discuss reducing police funding, potentially reducing the already marginal protective effect they had on campus crime. it’s imperative that students, faculty and staff of all races, creeds and ethnicities be permitted to protect themselves. Now, as ever, Students for Concealed Carry is committed to fighting for those rights.

Rape Survivor Amanda Collins on Why She Supports Campus Carry

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Unable to carry a firearm for protection while on campus, concealed-carry permit holder Amanda Collins was brutally raped. Today, her fight to save other women from a similar fate is helping her along the road to healing.

Amanda Collins never had a chance.

If anyone could have physically resisted a six-foot-tall attacker with martial arts training, it would have been her. After all, she is a second-degree black belt in Tae kwon do.

“It took me a few years to realize that not everybody’s parents made them get their second-degree black belt to get their driver’s license,” Collins laughed during an exclusive interview with America’s 1st Freedom.

Collins, a concealed-carry permit holder, studied education and English at the University of Nevada, Reno. But there are two things that are against the law on Nevada college campuses—rape, and carrying a gun for protection against rapists. Like the vast majority of “enlightened” public universities nationwide, UNR prohibits lawfully armed citizens from protecting themselves on campus.

Just like thousands of other students, Collins was deprived of the right to defend herself.

On Oct. 22, 2007, Collins was on campus to take a late-night midterm. She parked in the same garage where campus police park their cruisers—less than 100 yards from the police station—to avoid having to cross campus after dark.

Leaving class after 10 p.m., the attractive 5-foot-2 junior dutifully followed the “safety in numbers” rule by walking with several classmates to the garage until they parted ways to their different levels.

Displaying the awareness inherent in a concealed-carry permit holder with a black belt in martial arts, Collins scanned the area around her car as she approached. She didn’t see the man hunched down between two vehicles, patiently waiting. In an instant, the man pulled Collins down, put a gun to her temple, clicked off the safety and ordered her not to say anything.

Amanda Collins never had a chance.

In January 2008, Reno came alive with volunteers desperate to find a young woman who disappeared not far from the University of Nevada, Reno campus. Brianna Denison, 19, was staying with a friend during winter break and went missing in the middle of the night.

The search came to an end when Denison’s body was found four weeks later. Authorities determined she’d been kidnapped, raped and brutally strangled. Her naked body was left to freeze, crudely hidden beneath a discarded Christmas tree.

Brianna Denison never had a chance.

Students on campus became increasingly fearful as time went by and no arrests were made. Authorities began to question if the attack was related to previous incidents. College officials issued the same feckless guidelines, such as “be aware of your surroundings,” “don’t walk across campus after dark” and “travel in groups.” They also attentively supplied “rape whistles” to female students. (Local gun shops reported a surge in more practical self-defense measures.)

After Denison’s murder, authorities spoke with Collins about similarities in the two cases. Collins gave a physical description to a police sketch artist, and within months police tracked down and arrested James Biela, a construction worker who at one point worked on campus near where both attacks occurred.

Collins spent the day before her graduation testifying at trial. During the sentencing phase of the trial, she read a statement saying she forgave Biela for his actions but believed he should face immeasurable consequences, just as he condemned her to endure.

On June 2, 2010, Biela was sentenced to death for the murder of Denison. He currently sits on Nevada’s death row while his case is appealed.

Months later, Collins approached the NRA about decriminalizing concealed carry at Nevada’s public universities. A bill doing so passed the state senate, but was ultimately defeated by Assembly Judiciary Chairman William Horne, who refused to bring the bill up for a vote. Arguing against the bill were faculty members and police officers—most of whom presumably had never been raped or strangled on campus—who raised concerns about their own safety if the same people who carried off campus exercised that right while on campus.

During a recent interview, Collins shared her thoughts on her attack, her fight to legalize campus carry and her road to healing.

Thanks for talking with us, Amanda. Can you start by explaining your background with guns? I grew up with firearms in my household. They were never made a secret with my sister and me, and that’s largely due to my dad. He introduced them to us with a very healthy respect for them. I remember being down in his workshop when I was little, sitting up on the table while he was cleaning his firearms, and he would talk very frankly with me about them. I always had an understanding of their capability. I was about 5 or 6 when I started target practicing. I remember the first time I went shooting with Dad, he bought me a little chipmunk .22. My thumb wasn’t strong enough to pull back the hammer so he always had to do it for me every time. When I was in high school I tried out for the rifle team and made it, and participated in that for three years.

So you were allowed to handle firearms at high school but not college? Yeah. In a controlled environment, but yeah. That’s kind of crazy, huh?

What prompted you to get your concealed carry permit? I was raised by both my parents not to be an easy target. My parents did everything they could to make sure that if somebody wanted me, I wouldn’t be an easy target. As a petite woman, I realized that even with martial arts training, realistically, the only equalizing factor between me and an opponent much larger than myself would be a firearm, so I wanted the ability to actively and realistically participate in my own self-protection.

Did you ever face any threatening situations prior to your attack? Well, a lot of martial arts training emphasizes not putting yourself in that situation or putting yourself in that position where you have to be that close to somebody. If nothing else, it helped me avoid putting myself in a situation that would require that.

How did it strike you when you learned you couldn’t carry on campus? I found out in the concealed-carry class. I suppose at first it was troublesome and it kind of irritated me; I didn’t understand why I could be trusted at the deli shop across the street, and then as soon as I crossed that arbitrary line, I was suddenly deemed incompetent and unable to make sound decisions or untrustworthy for whatever reason by the same authorities who granted me the permission to carry in the first place.

Did you ask for permission [to carry before the attack]? I didn’t even know there was a system in place to ask for permission from the president to carry. I guess I just accepted it for what it was—not so happily. I took it for what it was and continued to be aware of my surroundings and ensure my safety. You don’t want to cause waves because in the end you want that pretty, expensive piece of paper to hang on your wall.

What did you do after your attack? Anyone who’s ever been raped can relate that you make a plan to survive. My plan at the time was denial—“this did not happen to me.” Everything I’d done up to this point was to prevent me from finding myself in that situation. I honestly don’t know how I made it home. I went to my sorority house and took a shower, because I just wanted to get all that filth off of me and just wash it all away. I drove home, went to bed, woke up and honestly did not remember what had happened. My brain had just allowed me to believe that I’d had the worst nightmare when I was sleeping. It wasn’t until two weeks later that I went back to the parking garage to park there for class and remembered everything that happened.

When did you finally tell someone? I confided in my roommate probably a week or so after that. I was very edgy, very angry, just not myself. She was my best friend at the time and knew something was off and could tell. She wanted me to go and report it, but I didn’t want to because I didn’t have any physical evidence at that point, and I knew that, and I really, really wanted to avoid it, avoid going to court, avoid going through the whole justice process. I felt there was no way I could give the police anything that could help them catch this guy. There was no DNA left, basically just my story.

What got you involved in the end? A young gal in the area went missing; her name was Brianna Denison. Her case was believed to be linked to another case that had occurred in December. My roommate had a gut feeling that it was the same guy who had attacked me, so she said, “You need to go and report this, because I think it’s the same guy.” And I said, “No, it’s not, just leave it be.” And so I didn’t make any efforts to call the detectives or authorities. She actually contacted them, told them what had happened and gave them my contact information. Once they approached me, I realized it was no longer just about me. They were trying to find Brianna. I really didn’t think that giving them my story would amount to that much. I went in and told them what happened, and there were enough similarities between the attacks for them to believe it was the same person; I was able to give a description to the sketch artist. That actually ended up being a very important piece of evidence in the trial. About 10 months later, they found their man.

Do you feel like the college is responsible for what happened to you? It’s interesting, because Adam Garcia, the chief of police, said they recognized that they had failed me miserably. If the college denies us the ability to participate in our self-defense, then they assume responsibility for every individual that comes onto their campus. My case is a perfect example of that. My inability to be able to carry allowed [Biela] to continue assaulting women, and ultimately he murdered one, too. So I think there is a shared responsibility in that. It’s like my mom has asked the chancellor of the university, “If guns aren’t the answer, then what is? Where were your police when my daughter was being raped?” Oftentimes, police officers only show up after the fact. First responders are good and essential and necessary—but instant responders are better. The university takes instant responders out of the equation.

The college granted you a special right to carry after your attack, didn’t they? Right. We sent them a letter, and they called my dad. They told him that before [University of Nevada, Reno] President Milton Glick ever entertained the idea of someone carrying a gun on campus, I needed to undergo an interview process with the chief of police. My dad went with me, and they asked me a slew of questions. It boiled down to the fact that I was terrified to go on campus. We didn’t know where this guy was, we didn’t know if he was still following me because the police originally thought he knew my pattern and my behavior well enough to grab me in the way that he did. I didn’t know if I was being watched. It was just a lot of uncertainty. They ultimately ended up granting me the permission I asked for, but there were a lot of contingencies. I had to be a full-time student, I had to have my firearm inspected, I couldn’t tell anybody. If any one of those things had been violated, then the permission would be null and void.

So if you offered protection to one of your classmates, you would lose your own right to protection? Right, it’s almost like they took away my First Amendment rights in giving me my Second Amendment rights. If I had told anyone, “Hey, let me walk you to your car and then you can drive me to mine because I have the ability to protect us both,” then in theory it would have been null and void.

Are there any no-gun signs marked on campus? You know, I’ve never seen one. I know the parking garage has been lit up a lot more and they installed call boxes on campus. But a call box above my head while I was being straddled wouldn’t be any more help than the police were that night. What am I supposed to do, ask my attacker to hold on and then run and push the button, then fight off my attacker while telling the operator what’s going on?

The Las Vegas Review-Journal quoted you as saying you had thoughts of suicide. Can you explain that? What are the lingering effects of being defenseless on campus? I struggled with survivor’s guilt. Why did [Denison] lose her life and I didn’t? I struggled a lot—it still keeps me up at times. The unanswered question in my life will always be, “What would have been different if I had my firearm with me that night?” I can play that incident in my head over and over again, but there’s one outcome that will always be the same—two other rapes would have been prevented, and one woman would be alive today. The thoughts of suicide are really hard to talk about. I think it was, after being raped, just not wanting to process it through and not wanting to figure out how to find peace after what happened. It’s a lot of emotionally draining work. But also the stress of the trial caused my husband and me to endure two miscarriages and 16 months of infertility after that, not to mention all the internal turmoil.

How do you feel about the failure of legislators to pass the campus carry bill in Nevada? Disappointed. It would have been one thing to lose in a fair fight. It is quite another to be “sucker punched,” as my dad puts it. All of the support it received does give me hope that I will see the bill pass in the future, and I have to remind myself that women did not get the right to vote the first time around.

How have you found healing since your attack? What would you tell others facing similar issues? Healing will be a continual process for the rest of my life, and I would not have ever been able to come to this point without my faith in Jesus. My faith has been so crucial. I don’t know how people get through tragedy without it. That is not to say that my faith has made it easier or less painful, but I think my faith made it more bearable by allowing me to know that there was a greater purpose, even if I couldn’t understand it or see how any good could come from it.

It is so important to get help to process through everything. Finding a way to help others through my experience has been so helpful. Honestly, when I reached the point where I was willing to allow some amount of good to come from my most devastating experience, I never in a million years fathomed that I would be led down the path of advocating for campus carry. I truly thought I would become a part of someone’s support system and be able to help them walk through the healing process. It wasn’t until I was in a business writing class for school and was given an assignment to write a paper. I wrote about campus carry. I showed my dad a copy, and he asked me if I was serious about wanting that to change. My response was, “Well, yeah, but who am I? I wouldn’t even know where to begin.” So my dad made some calls to the NRA and that was the conception of the Nevada Campus Protection Act.

I knew that this would require me to revisit my attack countless times and there are some days when it is a lot more painful than others, but the ultimate goal of saving lives and keeping others safe makes it worthwhile.

Following Biela’s arrest, news agencies reported that “girls on campus can finally feel safe.”

Unfortunately, events often highlight the difference between feeling safe and being safe. On July 15, 2011, police at the University of Nevada, Reno alerted students of an offender who attacked a student from behind and groped her buttocks and breasts.

Records indicate there are more than 500 convicted sex offenders living within Reno city limits, and nationwide averages tell us there are about nine sexual assaults every day on college campuses around the country—and that’s just the ones that are reported. Yet college professors and bureaucrats dare to claim fear of licensed permit holders over rapists, and pursue a political agenda that empowers criminals rather than victims.

Few of us require blood ties before stepping up to defend the innocent. But how would you feel if this was your family member? What regrets would plague your nights if your wife, daughter or sister were brutally violated?

“My dad was very supportive when I finally told him,” Collins said. “I think his heart was broken because he wasn’t able to protect me the way a dad should protect his daughter.”

Like the police, we can’t always be around to protect those we love. The least we can do is make sure the law doesn’t threaten them with prison for being prepared to protect themselves.

The least we can do is give them a fighting chance.

For more information on Amanda Collins and her outreach to victims of sexual violence, visit TearsSpeak on Facebook.

Reprinted with permission from the NRA.

How Many States Allow Campus Carry?

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Short Answer: Approximately eleven states permit concealed carry on campus in some form. These states include Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. Additionally, colleges in Virginia and Ohio voluntarily allow concealed carry.

Long Answer: Shortly after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, Students for Concealed Carry took an active role in urging the repeal of campus self-defense bans, and has successfully lobbied for changed laws in more than a dozen states.

Rules allowing campus carry are governed by state law. Consequently, regulatory mechanisms and operative law differ by region, and are applied differently. Some colleges only allow guns locked in cars. Some permit concealed carry only on the grounds, but not inside buildings. And of course, some colleges allow carry inside of buildings.

16 states prohibit concealed carry on campus by law. This means that persons knowingly carrying a concealed deadly weapon, even with a permit, are subject to fines and imprisonment. These states are: California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina and Wyoming.

23 states permit colleges to make their own rules against campus carry, but refrain from criminal penalties. Consequently, penalties are limited to academic sanctions such as suspension or expulsion (for students) or termination (for employees and faculty). These states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. As mentioned, some colleges have voluntarily opted to allow concealed carry, including Cederville University in Ohio and Liberty University in Virginia.

11 states expressly permit concealed carry on campus, including Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

Some colleges have taken action to reduce concealed carry on campus even in states which allow it. For example, despite a court ruling in Oregon revoking statutory bans on campus carry, the education board voted to exclude campus carry from buildings by policy. (According to media reports, students routinely carry anyway.) Most if not all of Wisconsin colleges exercise their legal authority to ban concealed carry inside of buildings.

Tennessee campus carry is confined to faculty and staff only. Conversely, some states including Michigan, Ohio and Virginia allow open carry on college campus property outside of buildings. (SCC does not take an active position on open carry on campus.) Furthermore, there is legal analysis which suggests concealed carry may not be prohibited on campus grounds in Virginia.

Also note that some states require “enhanced permits” which entail additional training before carrying on campus, such as Idaho, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Some states allow guns to be locked in cars on campus, including states in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Students for Concealed Carry has successfully helped bring legal challenges to allow guns to be secured in locked cars in both Ohio and Kentucky.

In conclusion, you can see that answering questions about college firearm policy is not as straightforward as it may seem at first. There is nuance even in how the question is phrased (“how many states allow guns on campus” versus “how many states allow concealed carry on campus”). The takeaway should still be that hundreds of colleges in nearly one-fourth of states in the US now allow campus carry in some form, with virtually no resulting increases in crime, shootings or violence.

Students for Concealed Carry has taken an active role in coordination, lobbying, public discourse and where appropriate, legal action to affirm and extend to colleges the rights of self-defense to responsible citizens dually authorized to carry concealed by state agencies. We will continue to work for the decriminalization of self-defense on college campuses.

NOTE:
The preceding is a general estimation of state laws compiled through media accounts, secondhand sources, and primary reading of statutes and interpretive documents such as attorney-general opinions. It is not intended as a form of, or as a substitute for, legal advice. Such advice should always come from competent, licensed counsel. Should the advice of a legal professional contradict this website, counsel’s opinion should control and supersede anything written herein. No attorney client relationship is created or implied by this website.

Why You Should Care About Campus Carry

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At first glimpse, policies allowing concealed carry of arms on campus are counterintuitive even to a casual gun owner. Cursory arguments raised against it take the form of emphasized, unrebutted arguments featured by slanted coverage of the media, and are generally as follows: students are irresponsible, reckless, and prone to mental illness and self-harm. Or, a student couldn’t keep a clear head to return fire against a planned spree killing. Or the ever-present “I wouldn’t feel safe on campus if more people had guns.

Of course, there are rational, evidence-based rebuttals to all of these objections which satisfy objective and rigorous scrutiny. But being convinced that the cause is correct may not always convert the casual gun owner into a proponent for campus carry.

So even if campus carry is a rational policy decision, why should the average parent, professor, student or citizen support it? We submit the following five reasons.

1) Campus Carry Works

Multiple studies, reports and testimony from campus officials, law enforcement, journalists and statisticians have shown that campus carry has not only been a non-issue regarding negative repercussions, but some evidence suggests crime actually decreases on campuses which permit students to be armed.

There are two prongs to campus carry’s success: deterrence, and practical self-defense. By announcing that some students may be armed (rather than mandatorily disarmed), criminals are more deterred from targeting victims which may pose a threat, and less willing to engage.

For less rational actors (the heedless spree-killer for instance), it introduces the possibility of self-defense where before none existed.

2) Colleges Are Open, Unsecured Environments

By definition, colleges are unique, and particularly vulnerable locations. These are not schools peopled with minors and juveniles for whom the school has custodial obligations, security systems for receiving and releasing students to their parents/guardians, and laws requiring attendance. These are open environments where independent students (and any other parties) are free to come and go. They have repeatedly shown themselves vulnerable to active shooter threats, with some twenty mass shootings carried out on college campuses since 2000.

While crime on campus overall has declined over the past two decades, and some research suggests campuses are safer overall than the cities in which they reside, history has shown they are not immune. Recent data demonstrates increases in crimes such as sexual assault or hate crimes.

For example, in 2016 there were 12,000 burglaries reported, as well as 8,900 forcible sex offenses, 2,200 aggravated assaults, 1,100 robberies, and over 1,000 hate crimes. There were 12 murders committed, and nearly 20,000 drug/alcohol or illegal weapons arrests made.

It should be noted, these are only the crimes which were reported, they reflect numbers that, at press time, are four years old, and only address on-campus crimes, which exclude crimes committed at residences, off-campus fraternities and sororities, and the curtilage of campus proper. Additionally, databases such as SpotCrime.com or the Department of Justice sex offender registry, provide a more adequate picture of college environments. (For example, 50+ crimes committed on or near Harvard University campus in the first six weeks of 2020, and over 100 registered sex offenders living within a three-mile radius of Harvard’s campus.)

Colleges are not immune from crimes, and actually pose unique threats to students. Persons vetted, credentialed and trained via state-approved licensing procedures should be prepared to defend themselves and fellow students or teachers on-campus the same as they are off-campus.

3) Student Anti-Gun Indoctrination

Ages 18-22 are formative years for students. It’s a time of finding identity, independence, and forming autonomous beliefs about the world and themselves. In that process, they rely on the authority, experience and instruction of the college professors to whom they’ve entrusted their learning. Research shows these professors are overwhelmingly, almost unliterally allied with political parties whose official party and candidate positions support increased gun control, restriction and confiscation.

These colleges actively perpetuate a myth among students that they are safer when disarmed, and less safe when legal, concealed guns are present, instilling irrational fears and an insidious, embryonic prejudice of their armed neighbors.

Consequently, colleges are laying the coercive foundations of anti-gun thought. If responsible gun owners (of all political persuasions) hope to reverse the subtle conditioning of collegiate environments and reach the next generation of gun owners, hunters, shooting sports enthusiasts and self-defenders, it’s vital to counter the prevailing anti-defense thought on campus.

4) College Properties May Extend Beyond Campus

Many make the mistake of believing that campus gun bans affect only college patrons. But most college campuses are sprawling environments, comingled within their urban city environment. Many colleges own agricultural acres, research facilities, extension offices or satellite campuses whose gun bans extend to any unwitting citizen who is otherwise lawfully permitted to go armed. SCC has been made aware of several otherwise-innocent individuals who ran afoul of the law through ignorance of college boundaries, and campus “gun-free” zones.

5) Self-defense Is A Right

While SCC has always steered away from a rights-based framework, and towards a needs-based framework (and as such, have even supported laws which impose enhanced restrictions to carry on campus), it must still be acknowledged that self-defense is a natural and fundamental right codified by federal and state constitutions, state law, federal and state court cases, common law jurisprudence and a rich history of political theory as ancient as Aristotle.

State lawmakers have established authorities through their police powers to regulate these rights. Private institutions have discretion to set their own rules (some of whom have invited campus carry), but as the recipients of state funds, federal grants and subsidized loans, public colleges don’t. The regulation of fundamental rights cannot be delegated to or usurped by the whims of unelected, unaccountable and highly partisan college bureaucrats with known, partisan biases against those individual rights, especially when they won’t be the ones locked in the classroom when the psychos open fire.

Postscript: So what can I do?

If we’ve successfully convinced you that the fight for campus carry is vital, there are any number of ways you can help. Cash donations are a great start. Reaching out to local students on your campus and connecting them with Students for Concealed Carry. Contact your representative or local firearms advocacy groups to promote the cause. Write an opinion piece for the local student or city newspaper. If you still have questions, contact the organizers and find out how we can use your talents.

Campus Carry’s Record in the Courtroom

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Campus carry has been tested in a multitude of courtrooms over the last decade, including in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Many of these cases has featured Students for Concealed Carry, either in front of, or behind the scenes. Outcomes favorable to campus carry were achieved in approximately seven of the 11 cases. The following is a non-exhaustive primer on those cases.

Colorado
After Colorado passed its Concealed Carry Act of 2003, the Colorado University Board of Regents passed their own campus-wide restrictions on concealed carry. The campus partially relied on the advice of then-Attorney General Ken Salazar, who ruled the law didn’t apply to universities. Three students challenged the prohibition in court in 2008. The students lost at the trial level, won at the appellate level, and when the University appealed, the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2012 that the university lacked authority to regulate concealed carry when the legislature had passed a preemptive law of their own. Regents of University of Colorado v. Students of Concealed Carry on Campus, LLC, 271 P.3d 496 (Colo. 2012). The case effectively required public universities in Colorado to permit licensed concealed carry in accordance with state statutes. Colleges largely complied, though in some cases making special accommodations by creating segregated dormitories for armed students.

Florida|
In 2013, a Florida gun rights group won on appeal in a case against the University of North Florida to allow guns to be kept in cars on campus. The appeals court held that under the statute, the trial court wrongly held the university was a “school district”, and that state preemption applied, preventing the campus from independently regulating firearms and allowing guns to be kept in cars on campus. Florida Carry, Inc. v. University of North Florida, 133 So. 3d 966 (Fla. 1st Dist. App. 2013). The same group sued Eastern Florida State University in 2014, winning a quick settlement with the college that involved changing the student code of conduct.

In 2015, the same group sued the University of Florida, arguing students should be able to have firearms in cars and places of dwelling. A Court of Appeals judge held that the college prohibition did not violate state preemption. Florida Carry, Inc. v. University of Florida, 180 So. 3d 137 (Fla. 1st Dist. App. 2015)

The group also sued Florida State University after a game-day prohibition on firearms in cars parked on campus. The day after the lawsuit, USF announced a quick change in the college’s policies to allow guns to be kept in locked cars on campus, although in May 2018, a court sided with the college against the gun rights group. Florida Carry, Inc v. Thrasher, 248 So. 3d 253 (Fla. 1st Dist. App. 2018) Four months after the ruling, Florida Carry filed suit against FSU for not going far enough in their policy change. The case is still pending.

Georgia
Professors in Georgia sought a judicial injunction against the campus carry law signed in 2017, a complaint which a Superior Court judge denied, upholding state sovereignty over campus self-regulation. As of April 2019, the case is pending appeal.

Kentucky
In 2012, Kentucky’s Supreme Court ruled universities must defer to the state legislative intent, including firearms in cars on campus. The suit was filed in 2009 after the University fired an anesthesia technician for having a handgun locked in his car. The firing was upheld at the circuit level, but overturned at the state supreme court. Mitchell v. University of Kentucky, 366 S.W.3d 895 (Ky. 2012)

Michigan
In 2017, a Michigan Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the University of Michigan’s gun ban was not preempted by state statute, and did not violate the Second Amendment. The case was brought by a civilian permit holder who feared accidental transgression of the campus gun restriction, and who was denied a waiver by the university. Wade v. University of Michigan, 905 N.W.2d 439 (Mich. App. 2017)

Missouri
In 2015, a University of Missouri law professor filed a lawsuit against the school claiming its bans on concealed carry (or weapons in cars) for employees, or transferring from an automobile trunk to the cab, violated state statutes, and state and federal constitutional provisions by restricting concealed carry.

Then-Attorney General Chris Koster filed a motion in support of the professor. The professor argued he should have the right as a state employee to transfer a firearm to the trunk of his car on campus, and there should be a policy in place to obtain permission for concealed carry. Under a 2014 law, all state regulation on firearms challenged in court were required to be evaluated based on strict scrutiny. The case was filed in state court but removed to federal court by the college under supplemental jurisdiction.

The plaintiff then filed an amended complaint divesting the case of any federal claims and petitioned to remand back to state court. The court granted his request, although taking a dim view of the plaintiff’s attempt to manipulate the forum. Barondes v. Wolfe, 184 F. Supp. 3d 741, 742 (W.D. Mo. 2016.). In September 2018, a judge ruled the case would go forward at a bench trial, and the following month the professor filed to be removed as a party to the suit after an undisclosed, nonmonetary settlement.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office continued the case as plaintiff, and on November 18, 2019 the appeals court found in favor of the college. In a 31-page opinion, Boone County Circuit Court Judge Jeff Harris held the college rule against campus carry by employees was presumptively valid, satisfied strict scrutiny and could survive. The judge included testimony from campus police and the university president reciting unproven, unfounded claims of alleged inevitably resulting harm. Of note, the Court found that “the right to bear arms does in fact apply to university property” on contradiction to the University’s arguments. As a fundamental right under the Heller decision, the strict scrutiny framework was required for any regulation of it. Strict scrutiny requires that the rule is narrowly-tailored to achieve a compelling interest. Here, the court held that the rule was narrowly-tailored, and the compelling interest was to reduce firearms crime and control student safety.

Ohio
In 2019, Students for Concealed Carry Foundation (SCCF) reached a settlement with Ohio State University to allow firearms to be stored in cars on campus, after an adjunct faculty filed a lawsuit contending the university policy did not comport with Ohio law. The settlement was reached after a Marion county judge sided with SCCF against the college’s motion to dismiss, which claimed students and staff waived their rights by signing contracts with the university.

Oregon
Later in 2011, a three-judge panel on Oregon’s Court of Appeals ruled that state statute preempted Oregon’s public university system’s attempts to prohibit concealed carry on campus. The lawsuit was filed by the Oregon Firearms Education Foundation after a student at West Oregon University was suspended for possessing a lawful concealed handgun. Oregon Firearms Education Fund v. Board. of Higher Education, 264 P.3d 160 (Or. App. 2011). The college elected not to pursue additional challenges, aiming instead for an end run around the court’s ruling to ban campus carry.

Texas
The courtroom has also hosted the efforts of opponents to prevent campus carry; in one widely-publicized suit in Texas, three professors attempted to challenge the Texas campus carry law on First Amendment grounds, as well as Second and Fourteenth Amendment equal protections arguments. The suit was dismissed by a federal court judge for lack of standing and insufficient evidence of their claims. Glass v. Paxton, 1:16-CV-845-LY, 2016 WL 8904948 (W.D. Tex. Aug. 22, 2016).  The professors appealed, and a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal, ruling among other things that the alleged “chilled speech” outcome was neither impending nor certain. Glass v. Paxton, 900 F.3d 233 (5th Cir. 2018).

Virginia
In 2011, Virginia’s state Supreme Court upheld a prohibition on concealed carry at George Mason University. The plaintiff argued that visitors weren’t subject to the college’s gun ban, and sought the court’s declaratory and injunctive agreement. The Court agreed with GMU’s argument, which relied partly on language from the landmark Heller Supreme Court case to argue that the college was a sensitive place, and the restriction was narrowly-tailored to campus buildings, as public areas were still open to licensed concealed carry. DiGiacinto v. Rector and Visitors of George Mason University, 704 S.E.2d 365 (Va. 2011)

Wyoming
In 2018, a Wyoming man was cited was cited for openly carrying a firearm on the University of Wyoming’s campus during a Wyoming State Republican Party Convention. The man subsequently challenged the law as violating state preemption, which Wyoming enacted in 1995. In 2010, a state law sought to expand gun rights, but contained an applicability clause restricting the law to firearms manufactured in Wyoming. (The gun being carried by the plaintiff was manufactured in Massachusetts.)

The law was held by District Court judge Tori Kricken as unwittingly restricting gun rights to the very narrow numbers manufactured within the state, that if the legislature wished to fix their error they should do so, and held that universities were an “alter ego” of state entities, and therefore could not themselves be preempted. The ruling was appealed to the Wyoming Supreme Court. On September 4th, 2019, the court overturned the lower judge. Williams v. State ex rel. U. of Wyoming Bd. of Trustees, 448 P.3d 222 (Wyo. 2019)

No, Crime Doesn’t Rise After Campus Carry Passes

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Last month, conservative-leaning publication The College Fix set out to check predictions that crime would increase in states which decriminalized concealed carry on college campuses. The report involved reaching out to “multiple public universities” and law enforcement officials in states such as Georgia, Utah or Kansas where students who meet state criteria for permits are allowed to carry on campus.

According to the report, “all of the schools that responded confirmed that they have seen no uptick in violence since their respective policies were put in place.”

To the extent results are measurable, this is consistent with crime rates (and subsequent media reports) in other states. No crimes were found to be committed by permit-holders across Colorado campuses, for example. No significant incidents were found at the University of Colorado, while crime at Colorado State University dropped. Officials in Texas reported no issues at the one-year and two-year marks, with police at Texas Tech even vocalizing support for campus carry. Officials at West Texas A&M reported a “smooth transition” and officials in Georgia reported the situation was a “non-story.” Officials reported no issues at Arkansas colleges. Contrary to some predictions, campuses with concealed carry policies saw no decline in enrollment, in some cases defying national norms.

In the aftermath of campus carry victories, activist journalists, politicians and professors routinely taken to the media to decry the supposed dangers of campus carry. Mother Jones proclaimed that “Guns on College Campuses Are Dangerous,” anti-gun activists claim campus carry “would create new dangers and burden schools with significant financial costs”, NBC News cited the “higher likelihood for college-aged people to engage in reckless behavior — binge drinking, drug use, fighting, suicide”, and The New Republic claimed campus carry has led to “dire consequences”.

Professors writing for the Washington Post announced that “Allowing guns on campus will invite tragedies not end them”. One Ohio professor offered sexist objections that it’s mostly men carrying guns, and men are more violent. A Los Angeles Times op-ed branded campus carry “silly and dangerous.” Other critics say campus carry in Texas “altered the perceived power dynamics between teachers and their students”. The Chronicle of Higher Education alleged sweeping increases in crime.

As is so often the case, their predictions have utterly failed to bear out in reality.

Students for Concealed Carry Announces Fall Empty Holster Protest

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Students for Concealed Carry is once again hosting an Empty Holster Protest to call for decriminalizing licensed concealed carry on college campuses.

The nationwide protest is the group’s signature event to raise awareness for the increased risks that college students face with crime and mass shootings, and the deadly illusion perpetuated by colleges that posting signs will ward off criminals.

“If you have a state-issued permit, the government has approved you to carry a concealed firearm anywhere the law allows, said David Burnett, a spokesman for the group. “Yet when it comes to one of the few places mass shooters favor, universities arbitrarily overrule that trust and forbid responsible citizens from defending themselves if the unthinkable happens.”

“Time and again, these murderous psychopaths have shown a preference for gun free zones because the rules guarantee no one can shoot back,” Burnett added. “Yet instead of developing proactive solutions to prevent shootings, college administrators threaten to ruin our lives with prison time or expulsion if we carry. They won’t be the ones in the classrooms with us when a criminal opens fire.”

The group points to hundreds of campuses in at least ten states which already permit campus carry, due largely to the group’s legislative and lobbying efforts since their formation shortly after the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. Despite predictions to the contrary, “campus carry” colleges haven’t seen increased crime or shootings. The group notes this is because persons obtaining concealed carry permits must, in most cases, be over 21 to qualify, as well as passing a litany of background checks and qualifications.

“Bottom line, posting signs requiring students to leave their guns at home is a useless and discriminatory, and makes the campus more appealing to criminals. It’s time for colleges to give up the pretense that they can protect us, and let responsible, mature adults choose for themselves.”

The protest, which involves symbolically wearing empty holsters while on campus, is nonviolent and nondisruptive, and will occur October 7th – 11th, 2019.

For more information, visit ConcealedCampus.org or the Facebook event page.

Millennial Results Mixed on Guns, Carry

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A new survey of 2300 college students has put another data point on the map of opinions regarding campus carry.

The survey — or at least, the authors of its subsequent news release from College Pulse — attempt to suggest college students are less likely than their forebears to support armed self-defense, particularly on campus.

“[J]ust 30% say the right to own guns is essential to their personal sense of freedom, compared to 41% who say it’s important but not essential and 28% who say it’s not important,” the report begins, before proceeding to say women are more likely than men to support gun control proposals and 36 percent of students would be very likely or somewhat likely to transfer colleges if campus carry were legalized.

Of course, as with any poll these results are subject to some interpretation and context. For starters, the same poll noted that 71 percent of these students said the right to own guns was either “important” or “essential” — including 65 percent of female respondents.

62 percent of students say they weren’t likely to consider transferring colleges if campus carry were allowed ⁠— 75 percent male, 53 percent female. 

A full half of respondents support concealed carry “most places” or “almost anywhere.” A full third of students favor allowing college professors and school administrators to carry on campus (such as Tennessee’s law).

With College Pulse being a relatively new player on the field, a review of more established polling organizations may also be in order to place these results in context. For example, the Pew Research Center’s polling of Generation Y and under-30 (different measurements of essentially the same demographic) show a years-long rise in support for firearm ownership and a steady decline in opposition. A full 43 percent of respondents under 30 responded that they own (or live with someone who owns) a gun — the highest-performing age group except for adults 65 and older.

Gallup results from 2015 indicate only half of America’s under-35 population endorses more gun control, while another Gallup poll showed two-thirds of millennials believe guns make them safer. According to CNBC, 26 percent of millennials have purchased a gun. (If this sounds like a small number, remember that the oldest possible age for millennials is 38.) Shooting sports in high school and college has been on the rise in recent years.

The phenomenon has journalists at Slate, the Washington Post and others puzzled that millennials seem more supportive of gun rights. And indeed, there’s data to which both sides can point as an intellectual victory. Clearly, America’s college students aren’t just accepting every political narrative they’re fed regarding campus carry. Suggesting America’s varsity population is choked with mental illness, alcohol, suicide and reckless irresponsibility is probably not the best means of currying favor with them. Given that the average age of US Army recruits is under 21, while eighty-four percent of marines recruits are twenty years or younger, clearly the American public doesn’t share the same contempt and distrust for college students as do professional anti-gun lobbyists.

In the end, it’s apparent the positions of Students for Concealed Carry are not in the radical minority. They’re mainstream, and due to tireless efforts from our members and supporters, they’re the law of the land in at least ten states.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t work still to do, but there’s far too much progress to be dismissed by a few cherry-picked numbers from one poll.

What’s Going On at Johns Hopkins University?

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In addition to opposing licensed, armed self-defense on college campuses, some gun control advocates take their opposition even further and oppose law enforcement being armed.

The troubled city of Baltimore has set new records for homicide, continued to fight racial tensions, changed police commissioners three times in five years, and is facing corruption scandals from both their mayor and the police department.

In a bid to protect the campus population of over 15,000 students and 4,500 faculty, Johns Hopkins University introduced a plan for a private, armed police force. (The college presently relies on a combination of off-duty Baltimore police officers and unarmed security.)

The change would require legislative approval from the Maryland General Assembly.

The move has been met with controversy, as 100 professors signed a letter of opposition, protestors branding themselves Students Against Private Police (SAPP) marched on JHU President Ronald J. Daniels’ house, as well as invading campus buildings and chaining doors. The protests culminated in 7 arrests.

“Nobody deserves to have the right to play God, to take someone’s life in such a brutal force and not be held accountable just because he or she wears a badge. It’s utterly ridiculous and unacceptable,” said protestor Tawanda Jones. The movement says a campus police force would lack accountability and threaten its student population, and JHU should shift its focus to strengthening social safety nets and improving inner-city education.

“I don’t want those people to have guns because I know who they would use them against – and that is me,” said Jamie Grace Alexander, a self-proclaimed representative of the Baltimore trans community.

Opponents are currently collecting signatures to prevent the measure from appearing on the 2020 ballot.

Strangely, an armed police force has seen public support from one of the staunchest proponents (and financiers) of the gun control movement – billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg, a JHU alumnus and donor, called it “irrational” that the college doesn’t have their own security. “When you have a city that has the murder rate that Baltimore has, I think it’s ridiculous to think that they shouldn’t be armed,” Bloomberg told the Baltimore Sun.

While colleges have been increasing the presence of armed police officers in recent years, the presence of law enforcement on campus is hardly a guarantee against mass shootings. Even major universities often have only a few officers on the clock patrolling hundreds of acres of classrooms, dorms and facilities.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “A majority (92 percent) of public institutions used sworn officers, compared to 38 percent of private campuses. Nearly all sworn campus police officers were armed. Most sworn campus officers were authorized to use a sidearm (94 percent), chemical spray (94 percent) and a baton (93 percent). Nearly all campuses (95 percent) operated their own law enforcement agency.”

Students for Concealed Carry remains neutral on whether campuses should employ armed security. Responses to the unique threats of mass shootings are the responsibility of each college and state government, and we respect the weight and responsibility shouldered by law enforcement.

What is clear is that so-called “gun-free zones” enforced by signs alone amount to nothing more than a deadly illusion of security. Assuring psychopathic killers their victims are disarmed is a lure, not a deterrent. Among the many solutions on the table, threatening responsibly armed citizens with jail time and expulsion for wanting to defend themselves does not protect them. Gun free zones invariably make students less safe.