Colleges Scramble to Create Effective Weapons Policies

It’s been a debated issue for quite some time now — should weapons, guns in particular, be allowed on college campuses? While some states have passed laws allowing students to carry a gun on campus, other states and schools are entangled in bans and court hearings as to whether students can carry weapons on college campuses.  With those campuses in which students cannot carry guns, colleges are encouraged to explain in detail the extent of their goals and avoid total bans because they could face trouble in court, according to an article posted in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

In two recent Supreme Court cases, the reach of the Second Amendment expanded to cause much activity by state lawmakers that were aimed at limiting anti-gun policies on college campuses, leaving the campus bans on guns intact. But panelists insist that the laws and activity relating to the right of people to bear arms shows a need for carefully planned policies and procedures that will hold up in court in the future. The panel of experts advised about the troubles they could face in court during the second day of the annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Attorneys. The decisions of the Supreme Court, which invalidated some municipal restrictions on gun control, create an opening for a exception for the restrictions that apply to "sensitive places such as schools and government buildings", the article further stated.

In front of theVirginia Supreme Court, George Mason University was able to successfully argue that its gun ban was legal because its campus qualifies as a sensitive place. Officials for the University of Colorado strongly urged colleges to write carefully crafted gun restrictions to improve the chances that judges will consider the uniqueness of a college environment. Patrick O’Rourke, the senior managing counsel for the University of Colorado, recently defended his institution’s gun ban in front of the Colorado Supreme Court and the judge wanted to know what made his case so special. O’Rourke says that it is important to be prepared for judges questions when talking about gun bans and why their environment is a unique exemption.

O’Rourke says that in particular he is referring to having colleges explain why they have an interest in defending gun bans such as the fact that those colleges house young adults who can make poor choices when under the influence of alcohol. Regardless of the outcome, school officials are encouraged to be prepared for explaining their motives and ideas behind their proposed actions and are strongly advised to avoid absolute bans that won’t be likely upheld in court and those that could also face other issues.

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