Pennsylvania Universities Lift Ban on Firearms on Campus

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Pennsylvania's Kutztown University has ended its ban on guns on campus, the fifth state-run school to change its policy in the wake of an opinion from lawyers for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

In an email circulated this past Thursday evening, Kutztown President F. Javier Cevallos revealed that the school's policy had been amended in April to permit students to carry firearms on campus. Guns may not be brought into buildings or to sporting events without permission from the university police chief, who will only grant an exception if presented with what Cevallos called a “compelling reason.”

“Our president does not believe that guns have a place on campus," university spokesperson Matt Santos clarified Friday. “We will do what we can to keep our campus free of weapons and have written the policy to keep it as strong as possible to keep weapons away from buildings and campus events.”

Four other state university campuses, at Shippensburg, Edinboro, Slippery Rock, and Millersville, have adopted similar policies since the legal opinion, which was backed by the office of governor Tom Corbett. A spokesperson for the governor's Office of General Counsel explained that “blanket firearms bans were vulnerable to constitutional challenge and exposed the universities [to legal claims].”

No legal challenges to the state university system's previous policies against firearms on campus had been made.

Pennsylvania law prohibits firearms in K-12 schools and court facilities. There is no law barring firearms at state-owned universities.

Five states currently have laws explicitly permitting concealed weapons on public university and college campuses. Utah specifically bars public universities from banning concealed firearms.

Sources: Huffington Post, Fox News, Salon.