DENVER – A Colorado Senate committee will consider a gun-control bill this week that would ban concealed carry on public college campuses, reversing a state Supreme Court ruling last year that forced colleges to accommodate students with concealed-carry permits.
Chances are, however, few students would notice any change.
Boulder Democratic Rep. Claire Levy’s bill comes as majority Democrats in both legislative chambers push gun-control measures that include an assault-weapons ban, universal background checks and limits on gun magazines. But campus police and some students say any change on concealed carry likely would have little impact.
“It’s a difficult ban to enforce, because we have so many entrances and exits to this campus,” said Ryan Huff, a spokesman for the University of Colorado Police Department.
Nevertheless, faculty members have raised concerns about the potential presence of guns since the March court ruling, which said only the Legislature could create exceptions to the state’s concealed-carry law. Levy, whose district is home to the main campus of the University of Colorado, said it was those fears that prompted her to propose the bill.
“It wasn’t so much a concern that someone might use a weapon, but that not knowing if there was a weapon would be intimidating and inhibiting,” Levy said.
Levy’s concealed-carry ban passed the House last month, and today it is expected to go before the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
Concealed carry is available to adults 21 and older, only a portion of Colorado’s college students. Without security checkpoints, enforcement is hard. And officials at several Colorado universities and colleges say they are unaware of any incidents involving a concealed-carry permit holder before or after the Supreme Court ruling in March 2012.
In November, however, an employee at the University of Colorado dental school accidentally discharged her weapon inside an office at the school, slightly injuring herself and another person.
“People on our campuses report that it doesn’t seem to have much of a day-to-day impact, or a visible day-to-day impact, on campus,” said University of Colorado spokesman Ken McConnellogue. “It’s not like (the campus police) will knock on doors and say, ‘Hey, you got a gun?”’
“There’d be no difference,” said Zach Knight, a sophomore chemistry student at Metropolitan State University in Denver. “The whole point of concealed carry is not to know.”
Knight, a 19-year-old gun owner, said he opposes the bill. He plans to get a concealed-carry license when he’s 21, and he wants to be able to carry his weapon on a campus that Metropolitan shares with CU-Denver and the Community College of Denver, where there’s a steady flow of 45,000 students and others on and off campus.
“I’m not saying something’s going to happen, but there are a lot of homeless guys around here, and what if something did?” Knight said.
Some faculty and administrators have been vocal about the desire to ban concealed weapons.
Metropolitan State’s board of trustees and the Faculty Senate voted to support Levy’s bill. Faculty members said they worry about a safe working environment, guns in the classroom, and the prospect of guns mixing with after-hours alcohol use.
“There is no need or purpose for guns,” said Metropolitan State President Stephen Jordan. “The thought of that chills the academic environment that we’d like to have in the classroom.”
Twenty-one states ban concealed weapons on public university campuses, and 23 states let colleges set their own policies, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Arizona, Kentucky, Maryland and Colorado are considering banning guns from campus.
The Colorado School of Mines, the Colorado Community College system and Colorado State University support the bill.