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Campus Gun Policy Under Debate


The topic of Auraria Campus’ concealed carry gun policy was a primary conversation at February’s CU Regent debate.

All regent potentials, as well as current Regent and Denver District Attorney hopeful Michael Carrigan, said they would like to see the policy reversed or amended and establish gun-free areas on Auraria. CU Denver students are more divided.

The Colorado Concealed Carry Act revamped its legislature in 2013 and affected college campuses state-wide. As it stands, licensed students and faculty may be armed on Auraria so long as there is adequate effort to conceal the weapons from public notice.

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel Prize-winning professor from the University of Texas at Austin, has banned students from bringing guns to his classes even though he teaches at a concealed carry campus. Weinberg’s decision may incite legal action, but he believes he would win a lawsuit on the grounds that the Second Amendment right to bear arms could interfere with the First Amendment right to free speech.

Renée Wanke, a student of Psychology and Biology at CU Denver, doesn’t quite buy into Weinberg’s logic. “If a student says something controversial enough to get a violent reaction, someone might respond with a knife or physical fight, not just a gun,” Wanke said. “I don’t think our concealed carry policy makes us any more or less safe in the classroom.”

Because Auraria is situated in a major urban area, there is no way to regulate who enters the campus, and the ability to recognize a suspicious person among 40,000 students becomes compromised. After noting that firing back at an active shooter might put a licensed concealed carrier at risk of police injury, Wanke said, “The more good guys there are with guns, the more ways we have to stop threats.”

However, the FBI reports that while 20 percent of active shooting events are stopped by a civilian, only three percent of events are resolved by another armed individual.

Terri Gangi of the Sports Engineering program said she wasn’t aware of Auraria’s gun policy. “That means it hasn’t been a problem,” Gangi said. “I just want people to know how to use guns correctly.”

Matti Matti, a major in Electrical Engineering, agrees with Weinberg concerning the constitutional right to free speech. “I would rather students and teachers not have guns,” Matti said. “Only police officers should have guns. If something happens, if people get angry, it gets tough. If there are guns in those moments, we waste lives.”

The complexity of this debate only increases when considering college dormitories. If people with guns in their homes are statistically more likely to be shot than any other demographic, does the right to bear arms outweigh the right to chose to live in a gun-free environment?

One of the reasons concealed carry laws exist are to allow people to practice their Second Amendment rights without alarming the public. Even so, students might feel threatened by the possibility of their classmates coming to campus armed—and that same possibility might prevent a would-be assailant from opening fire in North Classroom. There are no perfect answers, but without further legislation, firearms and education will remain firmly coupled.

—Taylor Kirby

Above: Students are torn on being able to have a concealed carry weapon on campus or not.

photo: Nicole Elizabeth • CU Denver Sentry

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