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Fort Lewis to scrutinize its concealed-gun policy

Court ruling on CU ban prompts college’s review

Fort Lewis College will review its policy for carrying concealed handguns after the Colorado Supreme Court last month struck down a ban on such guns at the University of Colorado.

The ruling that CU had overstepped its authority in blocking students from carrying licensed concealed weapons prompted FLC Police Chief Arnold Trujillo to evaluate the college’s policy.

“We are putting together a committee who will work on the details this spring and summer and bring in our attorney to make sure we follow the letter of the law,” he said.

FLC’s policy had been to prohibit guns on campus. Off-campus students were required to keep their guns in their vehicles. Residential students were banned from having firearms in the dorms or apartments.

Those policies will be revisited with the committee Trujillo will head.

Gun-rights advocates hailed the state Supreme Court decision.

“Gun-free policies are an open invitation to psychopaths,” said David Burnett, national spokesman for Students for Concealed Carry. “Until colleges can guarantee our safety, they can’t criminalize self-defense.”

The group reports that 220 campuses in six states already allow concealed handguns.

Trujillo said he isn’t nervous about the change and feels his officers are well-trained to deal with any armed situation.

Visiting political science professor Richard Foster has concerns, though,

“Even in the Old West, there were places where weapons were not allowed,” Foster said. “In many towns, you checked your firearms in with the sheriff or marshal. If you didn’t do that, you still didn’t wear a gun to church or into a school. When you went to a saloon, you checked it in with the bartender. There are places where guns complicate civil discussion, invoking intimidation even when it’s not intended.”

But FLC sophomore Andrew Mangold, who has a military background and is a concealed-carry permit holder, said the whole idea is to keep the weapon hidden until it is needed.

“Permit holders are taught that they must keep their weapons concealed until and unless they encounter an immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm. We are explicitly taught not to seek out an aggressor,” he said.

In their ruling, the Supreme Court justices said the state Concealed Carry Act shows “that the General Assembly intended to divest the Board of Regents of its authority to regulate concealed handgun possession on campus.”

The act says that a person with a permit may carry a concealed weapon “in all areas of the state,” with the exception of some federal properties, K-12 schools and buildings with fixed security checkpoints, such as courthouses. It also says that a “local government” may not enforce an ordinance or resolution that conflicts with law.

Julie Jacobson is a junior at Fort Lewis College studying English writing. Reach her at herald@durangoherald.com.