8 Steps Universities Should Take in Response to New Gun Laws

A recent Oregon Court of Appeals ruling has overturned a longstanding state university rule that prohibits individuals with legal firearm permits to carry guns on campus and, in doing so, has put state colleges in a pickle.

In fact, this is just the latest in a string of gun-related state government decisions that increase the likelihood of firearms turning up on campuses, with Colorado, Wisconsin and Mississippi having made similar decisions in the past year allowing the carrying of guns on campuses.

Colleges are being put in a position where they must allay the fears of their communities now that they are doing everything they can to keep their campuses safe.

“Colleges and universities are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their position as safe havens and community leaders without detailed and well-practiced crisis plans. Along with hate crimes and STDs, colleges will now have to be prepared for the consequences of concealed weapons carried by those who have just learned how to use the library,” says Richard S. Levick, president & CEO, Levick Strategic Communications.

With that in mind, Levick provides a list of eight actions that state universities should immediately take to not only calm the fears of communities and individuals, but to also prevent the dangerous situations that can result from having guns on campus.

  1. Develop clear campus policies and distribute them through campus information systems and to parents.

  2. Focus on a stricter gun policy than what the states require, if possible, and emphasize safety.

  3. Develop gun safety programs. If the campus has a rifle team, make them the icon of gun safety.

  4. Communicate the state requirements (e.g., that you must be 21, have a background check, no criminal record, etc.).

  5. Develop clear zero-tolerance policies for violations of any gun safety rule on campus and broadly articulate them now.

  6. Review campus alcohol policies in light of the new gun laws.

  7. Allow students to store their firearms with campus security rather than having them stored in dormitories.

  8. Instruct students what procedures to follow in the event they find an unattended firearm.

The situation state universities in Oregon, Wisconsin, Colorado and Mississippi find themselves in is not an easy one. However, it does not mean that there aren’t strategies and steps the affected schools—or any school for that matter—can take to ensure both compliance with legal rulings and the essential maintenance of a safe, learning environment.

  • ricks@astate.edu

    Rick. See attached article. It sounds like a good strategy.