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Campus Carry Laws: A Round-Up of Recent State Actions

Campus Carry Laws

Digested from local Georgia, North Dakota, Kansas and Arkansas news outlets

Georgia became the 11th state to enact a law that allows students to carry guns on parts of college campuses when Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 280 in May.

The bill, House Bill 280, allows anyone with a concealed weapons permit to carry a gun on any public college and university campus, with exceptions that include dormitories, fraternity and sorority houses, rooms used for disciplinary meetings, campus child care centers, and buildings used for athletic events and where high school students attend class.

The bill also excludes guns from professors’ offices, which Deal specifically cited when he vetoed a campus-carry bill with less exemptions last year.

“It is altogether appropriate that weapons not be allowed in sensitive areas on college campuses, and I appreciate the thoughtful consideration given by the General Assembly in expanding these excluded areas within a college campus in this year’s bill,” said Deal, in a press release he issued.

“While HB 280 addresses the rights and restrictions relating to weapons carry license holders on a college campus, it in effect may have greater significance for students who are going to or coming from a campus. Unfortunately, in parts of the state, the path to higher education travels through dangerous territory.

“At the present time, assailants can, and do, target these students knowing full well that their victims are not permitted to carry protection, even those who are weapons carry license holders, because they are either going to or coming from a campus where no weapons are allowed. In recent years, we’ve witnessed college students fall victim to violent attacks in or while traveling to libraries and academic buildings, and while traveling to and from their homes to class.

“As this legislation is more narrowly tailored as to exclude areas on a college campus, I’ve signed HB 280.”

Landmark Properties, a student-housing operator based in Athens, Ga., does not allow guns at its off-campus communities, and carrying one is deemed a violation of the lease agreement, says James B. Whitley, its Vice President & COO. “We include this in It is in the terms and conditions of the lease agreement and the community policies and a reminder is included to residents and Guarantors prior to move-in. We do complete a search during our quarterly unit inspections, and if weapons are identified, we contact the resident and reinforce the terms and conditions of their residency."

For Landmark, resident safety takes priority. “Simply put, in our effort to support the higher education initiative as a student housing provider we do not believe that unfamiliar roommates, unfamiliar friends/guests of residents and roommates and the variety of social activity including a typical increase in drinking and “partying” that occurs during these years in college are not conducive environments for the introduction of guns into these situations," says Whitley. "Too much can go wrong vs. what could go right.”

Meanwhile, the North Dakota Board of Higher education has passed a measure that makes it is the only body that can decide to allow guns on college campuses. The board acted as the North Dakota House was considering a bill that would allow elected officials to carry a concealed firearm in government buildings. The state House passed that bill on April 4, but the state Senate killed it on April 20.

In Kansas, House legislators attempted to roll back a law that will allow concealed firearms on public college and universities, but failed. The law, which was passed in 2013, will go into effect this summer.

And Arkansas’ campus carry bill was signed into law by the governor in March. However, the Southeastern Conference, of which the University of Arkansas is a member, asked that sports venues be exempt from the law. So the state legislature passed another law to allow collegiate sporting events to be designated gun-free zones, but only if the Arkansas State Police determines these venues can provide enough security on their own.

Currently, 10 other states have campus carry laws on the books. No state had such a law in 2000.