About 75 faculty, staff and students shared concerns about concealed carry policies and how the university communicates them in a town hall meeting in the UMC’s Aspen Room Wednesday afternoon.
CU-Boulder officials including Chancellor DiStefano, Provost Moore, Managing Senior Associate Counsel John Sleeman, Commander Robert Axmacher from the CU Police Department and the Chancellor’s Chief of Staff Catherine Shea listened to questions and entertained a community discussion on how Colorado’s concealed carry law applies to CU-Boulder.
Sleeman opened the event with an explanation that CU-Boulder’s legal position – until a ruling last March by the Colorado Supreme Court – was that Colorado’s concealed carry provisions did not apply to CU-Boulder specifically as the university wasn’t specifically mentioned in the concealed carry act.
He said University of Colorado lost on that point in March, with the court holding that the law did apply to CU’s campuses and that the Board of Regents did not have the power to set policies at odds with it.
He explained that under the law, individuals may not brandish or “use their weapon to intimidate any one,” but that faculty could not eject someone from the classroom or take other actions against them simply due to the fear such individuals might have a concealed weapon.
“The bottom line for the campus is always the safety of our students, faculty and our staff, our goal is to make sure the university can carry out is mission of research, teaching and service in a safe manner that is in accordance with the law,” said Sleeman.
The forum then opened to questions for the administrators present.
A woman who identified herself as a CU professor challenged Sleeman on why the contractual arrangement with students that forbids concealed-carry weapons in undergraduate housing, football games or performance venues at CU-Boulder cannot be applied to classrooms or faculty offices.
She asked whether or not she could issue tickets to students to be admitted to her office or classroom under the condition that ticket-holders not carry a gun into those spaces.
Sleeman reiterated that the only place where this would apply would be ticketed events and in university housing.
“Those are individual transactions with students and it’s a different situation. At this point, it’s the university’s position that this would not be appropriate. . . this is one of the challenges of the law – you have to draw the line somewhere, and this is where we’ve drawn it,” said Sleeman.
At the close of the meeting, she raised the issue again, saying she wasn’t persuaded by CU’s arguments.
“I would like an explanation and I haven’t heard one today,” she said.
Many students in the crowd expressed support for the ruling and debated with faculty and others in the group, saying that concealed carry permit holders were the least likely to commit a gun crime and that faculty were over-reacting to the possibilities of having concealed carry permit-holders in their classes.
One student who identified himself as a concealed carry permit-holder asked if CU-Boulder had any statistics on concealed carry permit holders committing crimes on campus at CU-Boulder or elsewhere.
UCPD Commander Axmacher answered he was not aware of any crime being committed by a concealed carry permit-holder at CU-Boulder.
At least three students said they felt stigmatized by the communications issued by the campus earlier this semester explaining how CU-Boulder would implement the court’s ruling. They said the communications appeared to be hostile to concealed carry permit holders and were apologetic about having to implement the law.
In responding to questions, CU officials clarified other points:
- As a basic rule, guns are not allowed on campus except for those used by law enforcement officers and those who possess a valid concealed-carry permit;
- If a faculty member sees a person with a gun, he or she should contact CU police immediately. Police will contact the individual to see if he or she possesses a valid concealed carry permit;
- If a person catches an incidental glimpse of a firearm hidden in a holster on a person or mostly concealed underneath a jacket or coat, it would not be viewed as brandishing or failing to conceal the weapon.
- It is not legal for a person – even one with a concealed carry permit – to take out, show or otherwise brandish a weapon, or to use a weapon to intimidate any person;
- Simulated or toy weapons such as “nerf” guns are not allowed on campus by regent policy;
- CU has a Students of Concern protocol to help faculty identify students who may be suffering from mental problems before they become violent;
- There have been no applicants this fall for housing in graduate student apartments or cottages designated for concealed carry permit holders.