When I was a kid growing up in Iowa, my Uncle John and my dad taught me how to shoot. I fired rifles, shotguns, and pistols. The first time I fired my dad's twelve gauge shotgun, it felt like my shoulder had run into a car. The recoil was tremendous. While I never went hunting, I did do a fair amount of target shooting. Guns were present throughout my formative years. I've always been fascinated with the mechanics of firearms. Why am I bringing this up? I think it's important for folks to know a little about my history with guns if I'm going to write about an issue that is all about guns and student affairs. I'm not anti-gun, I'm anti-conceal-and-carry-on-campus.
The prohibition of conceal and carry on college campuses is once more in the news. Recently, a conceal and carry bill passed in the Nevada State Senate. The bill would "authorize a person who holds a permit to carry a concealed firearm to carry a concealed firearm while on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education unless the person is attending an event held at a sporting venue with a seating capacity of 1,000 or more." The current law states that conceal and carry permit holders can only carry their firearm on property of the Nevada System of Higher Education if given written permission by the president of one of the system entities.
The majority of higher education institutions in the United States prohibit the possession of firearms on campus spaces. This prohibition is generally part of the code of conduct at an institution. If (when?) conceal and carry legislation passes (it's currently being discussed in at least 12 U.S. states.), student conduct administrators will have to know quite a bit about the legalities involved and the impact on campus conduct codes.
In general, conceal and carry is an important topic for all student affairs administrators. ACPA, ASCA, ACUHO-I, NACA, NIRSA and NODA have come out with a joint statement against conceal and carry on university campuses. The statement lists several reasons why conceal and carry should not be allowed on college campuses.
My guest on this week's episode of Student Affairs Live will be Daniel Swinton, President of the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA) and Assistant Dean & Director, Office of Student Conduct & Academic Integrity at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Swinton will talk specifically about the ramifications of conceal and carry for student conduct officers.
ACPA is offering a webinar on the issue next week to assist campuses as they develop institutional positions and policies.
While NASPA has not officially endorsed an anti-conceal-and-carry stance, the Enough is Enough campaign (hosted by NASPA) has presented arguments against conceal and carry.
Another resource that I would recommend reading is a white paper (hosted on the National Behavioral Intervention Team Association website) from Darby Dickerson, Vice President and Dean at the Stetson University College of Law entitled: "Guns on Campus" [PDF]. According to Dickerson, "Our collective goal should be to make our college and university campuses as safe as possible. Allowing guns and other weapons on campus will not advance that goal; indeed, it will have the opposite effect and lead to additional deaths and injuries."
Are you a student conduct / student judicial administrator? What do you think? How will conceal and carry impact your campus?
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