Pennsylvania College Allows Students to Carry Concealed Weapons on Campus, Penn State Maintains Weapons Ban
Now that one Pennsylvania university has decided to allow guns on its grounds -- in limited circumstances -- it's possible that other schools may follow suit. Penn State does not allow students to possess any type of weapons on campus. But supporters of the "concealed carry" concept think it's an idea whose time has come.
Kutztown University, one of the 14 state-owned universities in Pennsylvania, recently decided that students may carry guns in some instances. According to Kutztown University President F. Javier Cevallos, attorneys advised the school that, "a blanket prohibition against the possession of weapons on campus is legally unenforceable."
As a result, the school has revised its regulations. In a statement, president Cevallos says, "the carrying of firearms will be permitted in open areas of campus by those persons who have a government issued license. Any requests for further exceptions must have the approval of the university chief of police."
However, guns are still not allowed in classrooms, dormitories or athletic facilities at Kutztown University.
The other 13 state-owned universities have been asked to hold off on making any changes to their policies regarding weapons on campuses.
Kenn Marshall, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) says, "Our universities have been asked to put on hold any further action pending an additional review of the issue by a task force that was created last month to study safety and security issues on all of our campuses." Marshall adds that the task force was not created just to address this single issue.
A student organization at Penn State, Nittany Lions for Concealed Carry, is advocating for the right to bring guns on campus. The group's president, Alex Dawes, says the policy change at Kutztown University is a welcome development, though he questions whether the new concealed carry rules go far enough.
Dawes says Kutztown University's policy change, "Is still a great step in our overall goal of making concealed carry possible on campuses throughout Pennsylvania." A similar change at Penn State is doubtful according to Dawes, because Penn State is not a state-owned institution and doesn't have to follow the rules in place at PASSHE schools.
He says, "Here at Penn State we will continue to educate people about firearms and concealed carry and work towards having another monumental policy change like that which Kutztown just experienced."
A random sampling of people on the Penn State campus found little support for the idea of students being allowed to carry concealed weapons. A woman, who didn't want to give her name said, "I wouldn't be comfortable with guns on campus." One man said simply, "That's a crazy idea."
Asked for comment, Penn State spokesperson Jill Shockey did not specifically address the situation at Kutztown University. Shockey did say, "College campuses are some of the safest places in society – statistics bear that out. The fact that we do not allow guns on campus is reflected in those statistics. The very sight of a gun can escalate a situation."
She points out that the university bans all weapons and not just guns.
Shockey went on to say, "Our feeling is that police, who are trained in handling firearms, shooting accuracy during stressful situations and in making quick decisions and judgments, should be the ones with weapons. They are the experts."