Other public universities share their experience implementing campus carry

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Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

At public universities, such as the University of Idaho and the University of Colorado-Boulder, campus carry has been implemented with only a couple of minor gun-related incidents.

But at UT, the issue still remains contentious among faculty, staff and students — whether they’re for or against campus carry. Both Students for Concealed Carry and Gun Free UT have suggested they may file litigation in response to UT President Gregory Fenves’ decision to adopt all 25 recommendations of the campus carry working group. These recommendations include allowing guns in the common areas of residence halls, classrooms and dining halls as well as prohibiting them at ticketed sporting events, patient-care areas and areas where K-12 groups are present.

However, interviews conducted by The Daily Texan with other public universities have shown concerns about campus carry have died down after implementation on their campuses. 

“In my view, it’s died down,” said Matt Dorschel, executive director of public safety and security at the University of Idaho. “I haven’t heard a lot about it at all.” 

Dorschel said the University of Idaho testified against the law when it was being considered in the legislature. He said there had been one incident since the law was implemented where a license holder “inadvertently exposed” his handgun on campus. Nevertheless, Dorschel said the University still believes campus carry isn’t conductive to the academic environment on a college campus.

“Most of us who opposed this legislation felt that this wasn’t consistent with the kind of environment that all of us in higher ed are trying to create and sustain,” Dorschel said.

Ryan Matt, spokesperson for the University of Colorado-Boulder, said the University had no incidents, to his knowledge, involving campus carry. 

“Some were for, some were against, but it really hasn’t been much of an issue since,” Matt said.

The UT campus carry working group found that while there had been some gun-related incidents at peer institutions that had implemented campus carry, no evidence suggested campus carry correlated with increased campus violence.

In Texas, however, the debate has intensified as academic freedom becomes an issue. Both Matt and Dorschel said there haven’t been any issues with professors on their college campuses, but concerns have been raised over it recently when a presentation from the University of Houston Faculty Council advised faculty members not to “go there” on sensitive topics if “you sense anger.” 

Dorschel said it’s difficult to ease concerns over campus carry leading up to implementation. He said strong messaging and town halls helped to calm down the campus before the campus carry law took effect in Idaho. 

“There’s very little you can do to allay the concerns about the environment,” Dorschel said. 

Mike McLively, staff attorney at the Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said he attributed the lack of gun violence to the small number of students who carry handguns on campus to class. However, he said carrying concealed carry weapons on campus has not been proven to stop on-campus gun violence.

“I’m not aware of a single event where a student or other person on a college campus who had a concealed carry handgun stopped a mass shooting from happening,” McLively said. “How do they know who the shooter is [when law enforcement responds]? They just know that there’s somebody on campus with a gun.”