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What Parents, Students Need to Know About Campus Carry Policies – U.S. News & World Report


Three members of the University of Virginia football team were shot and killed by a fellow student in November as they returned from a class field trip. Fifteen years earlier at Virginia Tech University, another public university not far away, a student gunman murdered 32 people and injured 17 others in what is still the deadliest mass shooting on a school campus in the United States.

Other incidents involving guns on campus have occurred in between, both at K-12 schools, which saw at least 48 school shootings in 2022, and other college campuses, sparking continuous debate – and a flurry of legislative activity – around guns on school grounds and in public places.

As students and parents weigh the variety of factors in their college decision, experts say recent instances of campus violence and campus shootings have moved gun safety up the list of priorities.

The vast majority of the nearly 1,160 colleges and universities that responded to a 2022 U.S. News survey reported that guns are banned on their campus. Ninety-one schools reported that guns are allowed but “heavily restricted,” while another 57 said they allow concealed carry, meaning eligible students can possess handguns across most of the campus if the weapons are hidden from view.

Even in states that don’t prohibit guns on campus, colleges and universities are sometimes able to determine their own policies. Students and parents should research their prospective schools’ specific policies when making their college choice, experts say.

“There continues to be some debate about these (policies), and legal challenges in some cases,” says Andrew Willinger, executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke University. “Not just about states allowing public universities to decide themselves what to do about guns, but in some cases saying that public universities cannot prohibit those who would otherwise be eligible to carry concealed weapons from doing so on campus, usually with certain exceptions.”

Arguments for allowing guns on campus include that campus carry permissions “will make people feel safer, this might actually serve as a deterrent, that these are constitutional rights,” says Cheryl Jonson, an associate professor of criminal justice at Xavier University in Ohio.

“However, of the limited amount of research that’s out there, we know that might not always be the case that people will feel safer,” she says. Jonson points to a 2021 Kennesaw State University study that looked at the effects of a Georgia law allowing concealed carry on campuses. The policy resulted in more guns on campus and increased fear of crime and conflicts, perceptions of the campus as unsafe and lack of confidence in campus police. The study also found that it did not result in any changes in “violent victimization.”

Students and families exploring colleges can take these steps to learn more about campus gun safety:

  • Research policies.
  • Ask questions.
  • Consider your values.

Research Policies

Regulations regarding guns on college campuses vary widely by state. Currently, more than half of states prohibit people from possessing a gun on college campuses.

For instance, a Kansas law that took effect in 2017 allows most adults age 21 and older to carry concealed weapons on public college campuses without a license. That means students can enter classrooms, labs, offices and other campus locations with a concealed firearm. The only places guns aren’t allowed are athletic arenas, concert halls or other buildings that have security measures like metal detectors and police officers in place, says Nelson Mosley, University of Kansas chief of police.

In June, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the state Board of Regents has the authority to create its own policies regarding firearms on public college campuses. While the state government has expanded the number of places where guns may be carried, the Board of Regents bans firearms on campuses in the University of Montana system, except for police and safety officers.

Families can easily find a school’s campus carry policy on its website, Mosley says, and he encourages students and parents to research those policies when making their college decisions.

Ask Questions

The Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, an advocacy group formed in 2008, has a database of campus gun-related incidents in states where guns are allowed on campus, but stopped adding data in 2019. However, families can contact prospective schools and ask about incidents of gun violence on campus, as well as gun safety policies.

Mosley, who took over as police chief at the University of Kansas in 2021, says he’s not been aware of any significant concerns from students since he’s been in his post, but he says his office is available if and when there are any. His office is present at various enrollment and orientation events so students and parents can ask questions.

“We want to make sure that folks are comfortable,” he says. “If they’re not comfortable, call.”

If schools do allow guns on campus, students and parents should find out what restrictions, if any, exist, Jonson says.

“It’s really knowing the bounds of that campus carry,” she says.

Consider Your Values

Families need to decide what’s important to them, says Andy Pelosi, executive director of the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus. He has one daughter in college and one in high school, and he says his family has made examining schools’ gun policies part of their checklist.

“We’re never going to have a perfect situation,” he says. “But we feel if there is a prohibition, we’ve got a better chance of there being a safer environment for everybody who’s there.”

“That was a big part of my criteria,” says Williams, who serves on the national advisory board of Students Demand Action, a youth advocacy group that seeks to end gun violence. “We deserve to be safe when we go to school. For a lot of young people, choosing to go to college is one of the biggest decisions we’ve made in our lives. There are already so many factors to consider when picking a college. Guns on campus shouldn’t be one of them.”

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Getting educated on the facts is key, he says. Families can start their research by reviewing the table below. It shows the 57 schools that reported, as part of a 2022 U.S. News survey of 1,160 colleges and universities, that they allow concealed carry on campus. Just two schools listed are private; all others are public universities. (This is not a comprehensive list of all schools nationally that allow guns on campus.)

Colleges That Allow Concealed Carry on Campus

Weber State University
64 (tie), Regional Universities (West) U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
University of Georgia
49 (tie), National Universities U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
Liberty University
331-440, National Universities U.S. News Rank
Private Private or Public
Texas State University
331-440, National Universities U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
University of Utah
105 (tie), National Universities U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
Washburn University
66 (tie), Regional Universities (Midwest) U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
University of Idaho
176 (tie), National Universities U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
Utah Tech University
35-46, Regional Colleges (West) U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
University of Houston
182 (tie), National Universities U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
Utah Valley University
90-117, Regional Universities (West) U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
Ohio Christian University
127-166, Regional Universities (Midwest) U.S. News Rank
Private Private or Public
University of Kansas
121 (tie), National Universities U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
Columbus State University
67 (tie), Regional Universities (South) U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
Texas Tech University
219 (tie), National Universities U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
Georgia Gwinnett College
54 (tie), Regional Colleges (South) U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
Utah State University
250 (tie), National Universities U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
Arkansas Tech University
70 (tie), Regional Universities (South) U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public
Angelo State University
85 (tie), Regional Universities (West) U.S. News Rank
Public Private or Public

College or University

 

U.S. News Rank

 

Private or Public

Western Colorado University   60 (tie), Regional Universities (West)   Public
University of Colorado—Boulder   97 (tie), National Universities   Public
Weber State University   64 (tie), Regional Universities (West)   Public
Sul Ross State University   90-117, Regional Universities (West)   Public
Texas A&M International University   57 (tie), Regional Universities (West)   Public
College of Coastal Georgia   76-99, Regional Colleges (South)   Public
University of North Georgia   46 (tie), Regional Universities (South)   Public
University of Texas—Dallas   151 (tie), National Universities   Public
University of Georgia   49 (tie), National Universities   Public
University of Texas Permian Basin   55, Regional Universities (West)   Public
Liberty University   331-440, National Universities   Private
University of Texas—Austin   38 (tie), National Universities   Public
Montana State University   263 (tie), National Universities   Public
Georgia State University   234 (tie), National Universities   Public
University of Arkansas—Fort Smith   58 (tie), Regional Colleges (South)   Public
Texas State University   331-440, National Universities   Public
University of Utah   105 (tie), National Universities   Public
University of Texas—Rio Grande Valley   299 (tie), National Universities   Public
Georgia College & State University   22, Regional Universities (South)   Public
Washburn University   66 (tie), Regional Universities (Midwest)   Public
University of Houston—Clear Lake   331-440, National Universities   Public
Fort Valley State University   83 (tie), Regional Universities (South)   Public
University of Houston—Downtown   78, Regional Universities (West)   Public
Midwestern State University   73 (tie), Regional Universities (West)   Public
University of Idaho   176 (tie), National Universities   Public
Texas A&M University—Commerce   331-440, National Universities   Public
Sam Houston State University   263 (tie), National Universities   Public
University of North Texas   285 (tie), National Universities   Public
Utah Tech University   35-46, Regional Colleges (West)   Public
Texas Woman’s University   331-440, National Universities   Public
University of Houston   182 (tie), National Universities   Public
University of Texas—Arlington   299 (tie), National Universities   Public
Tarleton State University   331-440, National Universities   Public
West Texas A&M University   57 (tie), Regional Universities (West)   Public
University of Wisconsin—Platteville   89 (tie), Regional Universities (Midwest)   Public
Georgia Institute of Technology   44 (tie), National Universities   Public
University of Arkansas—Pine Bluff   40, Regional Colleges (South)   Public
Wichita State University   331-440, National Universities   Public
Utah Valley University   90-117, Regional Universities (West)   Public
Ohio Christian University   127-166, Regional Universities (Midwest)   Private
Valdosta State University   331-440, National Universities   Public
University of Kansas   121 (tie), National Universities   Public
Columbus State University   67 (tie), Regional Universities (South)   Public
University of Texas—El Paso   331-440, National Universities   Public
Texas A&M University—Kingsville   331-440, National Universities   Public
Colorado State University—Pueblo   80 (tie), Regional Universities (West)   Public
University of Northern Colorado   331-440, National Universities   Public
University of Colorado—Colorado Springs   331-440, National Universities   Public
Harrisburg University of Science & Technology   133-175, Regional Universities (North)   Private
University of Texas—San Antonio   331-440, National Universities   Public
Arkansas State University   317 (tie), National Universities   Public
Texas Tech University   219 (tie), National Universities   Public
Georgia Gwinnett College   54 (tie), Regional Colleges (South)   Public
Utah State University   250 (tie), National Universities   Public
University of Texas—Tyler   331-440, National Universities   Public
Arkansas Tech University   70 (tie), Regional Universities (South)   Public
Angelo State University   85 (tie), Regional Universities (West)   Public



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