For over a decade, students and staff at Colorado’s public colleges and universities have been able to lawfully carry concealed on campus, so long as they possess a valid carry license. Though there haven’t been any widespread problems reported during that time period, anti-gunners have launched multiple attempts to declare campuses “gun-free zones” over the years. In 2021, when Colorado Democrats scrapped the state’s firearm preemption law and allowed municipalities and the boards of institutions of higher learning to set their own carry policies, the hope among anti-gunners was that CU regents would establish new rules banning lawful carry, but that hasn’t happened.
Now, with Democrats poised to introduce “carry killer” legislation that would declare campuses (and a host of other publicly accessible spaces) as “sensitive places” off-limits to concealed carry, some students and Democratic lawmakers are once again pushing to enact a ban.
“It’s insane that we allow individuals to carry a firearm into a classroom,” Chase Cromwell, University of Colorado Boulder senior and student body president said. “There’s a lot of evidence that talks about the negative impact that that has on student well-being and student mental health knowing that the student who sits down the row from you in class carries a firearm.”
Cromwell, after finding a lack of updated information online about conceal and carry on college campuses nationwide, conducted his own research. He looked at the top 500 schools by enrollment, according to 2021 data from the Department of Education, and researched each school’s gun policy.
He found less than 20% of students attending the top 500 schools were on campuses where conceal and carry is allowed. He found 402 schools ban it campus-wide, nine were online only, seven have a special permitting process and 82 allow it. Of the 82 campuses that allow it, 29 of them are in Colorado.
“Florida bans conceal and carry in higher education settings statewide, as a matter of state law,” Cromwell said. “Colorado wants to be progressive and talk about how we’re being very forward about the role guns play in our society, but Colorado allows guns in our classrooms.”
Freshman Karla Castillo said CU’s conceal and carry policy is “inappropriate” and that the regents should change it.
“Especially this school year even, we’ve seen a lot of school shootings specifically in college campuses all over the country, so allowing students and anyone at CU to conceal and carry is honestly dangerous,” Castillo said.
Despite Cromwell’s protests to the contrary, I’d say that Colorado is being progressive by recognizing the right to bear arms on campus. Other states like Kansas, Texas, and West Virginia followed the state’s lead in adopting their own campus carry policies after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in favor of students who wanted to carry for their personal safety, and it would be an incredibly regressive move to now declare that the practice is a actually a criminal offense.
- Dec. 6, 2023:* UNLV. See our coverage here. Three killed and the suspect dead. Another victim was reported in critical condition.
- Nov. 13, 2023: Prairie View A&M University, Texas, where an employee was shot and killed. The suspected gunman is a former coworker of the victim.
- Oct. 28, 2023: Worcester State University, Massachusetts, where two people were shot and one was killed after a fight.
- Oct. 15, 2023: Jackson State University, Mississippi, where one student was shot and killed.
- Sept. 9, 2023: University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where a student was shot and killed in his on-campus apartment.
- Aug. 28, 2023: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where a faculty member was shot and killed.
- Aug. 18, 2023: Columbus State University, Georgia, where a student shot and killed another student before killing himself.
- July 13, 2023: Howard University, Washington, D.C., where a construction worker was shot and killed on campus during a robbery.
- July 17, 2023: Catholic University, Washington, D.C., where a teacher was shot and killed during a robbery.
- June 6, 2023: Virginia Commonwealth University, where two people were killed and seven injured after a high school graduation that was held on campus.
- April 24, 2023: Rose State College, Oklahoma, where one man was shot and killed.
- April 9, 2023: Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville, Kentucky, where one person was killed and one injured.
- Feb. 13, 2023: Michigan State University, where three people were killed and five were wounded before the shooter killed himself during a confrontation with police.
Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas all allow for concealed carry on campus to one degree or another, but states like Michigan, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, and even Oklahoma broadly forbid concealed carry holders from bearing arms on campus. Those prohibitions didn’t stop individuals from illegally bringing a gun into a “gun-free zone” and using it against students and staff. The laws only guaranteed that the odds of a victim being able to fight back were slim to none.
The anti-gunners looking to take Colorado backward may believe the state’s campuses will be safer as a result, but they’ll only be putting folks at greater risk of being defenseless if they are the subject of an attack on campus; whether a carjacking, assault, or an active shooter. Repealing campus carry is a solution in search of a problem, and Colorado lawmakers should follow the lead of the CU regents and keep the current policy in place rather than endangering lives in order to claim a victory for gun control.