Auraria now allows guns to be brought on campus by concealed weapons permit holders.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on March 5 that the University of Colorado’s gun ban was unconstitutional. Since the ruling, colleges and universities throughout the state have changed their policy to remain in compliance with the Concealed Carry Act, including Metro, UCD and CCD.
“Because of the breadth of the [Colorado] Supreme Court decision, it’s pretty obvious that all college campuses in Colorado are having to react the same way,” said Blaine Nickeson, associate vice president of campus relations with Auraria Higher Education Center.
“We’re going to continue to enforce our weapons policy with the explicit exception of these concealed handguns for people that have a valid and legal concealed carry permit,” he said.
The ruling followed a lawsuit filed in 2009 by three students in El Paso county. They are part of the group Students for Concealed Carry on Campus. The students argued the gun ban on CU’s campus violated their constitutional rights.
Auraria also banned concealed weapons on campus in 2003, after the Concealed Carry Act was passed by the Colorado legislature.
“Until colleges can guarantee our safety, they can’t criminalize self-defense,” said David Burnett, the national spokesman for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus.
In light of the 2011 shootings at Virginia Tech, the ability to carry a concealed weapon on campus for the purpose of self-defense is necessary, Burnett said.
The Concealed Carry Act states 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, according to the Denver Post. It also states that a local government may not enforce an ordinance or resolution that conflicts with law.
Some students and faculty contacted AHEC with concerns about the new policy, primarily in regard to how this would affect the classroom environment, according to Nickeson.
“With faculty and with students, we’re really reinforcing that Auraria has a very low amount of violent crime on the campus,” Nickeson said. “We’ve also encouraged them to talk to their governance bodies.”
A handful of people contacted AHEC “to double check they really are in the clear to legally carry on campus,” Nickeson said.
Students should contact the Student Government Assembly and faculty should contact the Faculty Senate if they have concerns.
Nickeson declined to comment on whether or not he agreed with the ruling.
“The intent of the legislature as defined by the court was that weapons could be carried on college campuses, and as long as that’s the intent of the legislature, we’re going to do what we can to hold up the law,” he said.