Guns on college campuses
In 2007, Virginia Tech brought national focus on the need for campuses to set strategies to prevent and rapidly address mass violence. Since that time, there has unfortunately been several other incidents where gun violence occurred on college campuses.
This national scourge of gun violence has fueled extensive debate by state legislators about the appropriate course of policy action to mitigate the public safety threat that active shooters pose to the campus communities. Much of this debate has centered on the issue of allowing firearms on the college campuses, which up until most recently have been considered no guns zones!
Currently, there are nine states that allow concealed carry permit holders to bring guns on to college and university campuses. These states are Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Oregon. In contrast, twenty states have effectively banned firearms on campuses. This legislation, however, does not reflect the substantial change in direction of the state legislature’s advocacy taking place currently.
Women’s fraternities and sororities have long prohibited the presence of concealed carry hand guns on their property. This prohibition is not unlike other prohibitions that the house corporation property owners are at liberty to set as a private organization, such as no smoking, no candles, no halogen lights, no alcohol, etc.
We maintain that any legislation being considered is addressing specifically colleges and universities obligations only. We recently saw this play out in Texas with their recent concealed carry legislation, which specifically excludes private property such as fraternities and sororities.
The only exception, of course, would be if your chapter house is owned by the university and, in that case, you would be subject to the same housing requirements as if the university occupied the property. Therefore, as a private property owner of a sorority chapter house, you are in your rights to deny the presence of any concealed carry weapon by any member, employee or guest to your chapter house.
In order to make this clear to all, we recommend at a minimum the following risk management advice:
- Incorporate this prohibition of concealed carry firearms in your housing agreements
- Incorporate into other agreements covering non-resident members of the same prohibition
- Post on your chapter/house corporation website the prohibition
- Post signs at all entrances in English and Spanish to your building alerting visitors and guest to the prohibition
- Incorporate into your employee handbook of thus prohibition
- Incorporate both your physical building and to also include any automobiles in your owned parking lots
This is an evolving area of legislation, so it is important that you monitor any specific state legislative action to the contrary. We clearly have the university and college communities as allies as they too are very opposed to this requirement because they view it also as increasing a risk of further violence on their communities.