Guns
Guns

Univ. of Colorado to Keep Guns Off Campus

| by Brady Campaign
Brady Center officials applauded a ruling by El Paso County, Colorado District Court Judge G. David Miller dismissing a lawsuit that had sought to force the University of Colorado to allow students to carry loaded, concealed firearms on campus. Attorneys with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s Legal Action Project provided advice and assistance to the University in defending against the lawsuit.

The ruling found that the University acted reasonably in barring students from carrying concealed weapons on campus, noting the University Regents’ determination that the presence of firearms on campus “threatens the tranquility of the education environment and contributes in an offensive manner to an unacceptable climate of violence.” The court issued the ruling on April 30, 2009.

“The University of Colorado has chosen wisely and appropriately to protect students’ safety by barring armed students,” said Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence President Paul Helmke. “A campus where students may carry loaded semiautomatic weapons to class and elsewhere is not conducive to higher learning.”

The lawsuit sought to accomplish in the courts what the NRA has largely failed to accomplish in state legislatures. In 2008, proponents of guns in the classroom went zero-for-seventeen, with “guns-on-campus” bills failing in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington. Similar bills have failed this year in Indiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia.

In dismissing the lawsuit, the Court rejected claims that the Colorado Constitution grants a Constitutional right for students to carry loaded, concealed weapons on campus. To the contrary, the Court noted that the Colorado Constitution specifically states that “nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons.” The Court also rejected claims that the Colorado Concealed Carry Act requires the University of Colorado to allow armed students on campus, finding that this law specifically preempts only local governments from barring concealed weapons, not statewide institutions such as the University.

The Brady Center report, No Gun Left Behind: The Gun Lobby's Campaign to Push Guns Into Colleges and Schools, highlights the severe dangers posed by firearms on campus.

(The report is available online at http://www.bradycampaign.org/xshare/pdf/reports/no-gun-left-behind.pdf.)

The report details the reasons why bringing guns onto campus would dramatically increase the danger to students and faculty. For example, studies show that college gun owners are more likely than other students to binge drink, need a drink first thing in the morning, use cocaine or crack, be arrested for a DUI, vandalize property, and get in trouble with the police. Every year about 1,100 college students commit suicide, but another 24,000 attempt to do so. Given that 90% of attempted suicides with guns are successful, easy access to guns on campus would likely lead to an increase in suicides.