The debate over gun control has swirled around the beltway for years. Recently, the conversation has focused on gun control on school campuses. Last week, a state university in Pennsylvania amended their gun control laws to authorize students and employees with permits to carry concealed guns in open areas. Under this new legislation, the gun carrier at Kutztown University would have to provide authorities with a compelling reason to carry the weapon. All other firearms remained prohibited from academic buildings, residence halls, and school events.
The policy change was spawned by a conclusion by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) that a blanket prohibition against the possession of weapons would be deemed unconstitutional in court, making the school vulnerable. These determinations were passed on to fourteen other state owned universities and Kutztown was the first to err on the side of caution.
The issue of carry weapons on college campuses carries a two headed argument. On one side, recent events like the Virginia Tech killings and Columbine, make some hesitant to allow guns to be carried on campus. Moreover, these same individuals feel that the scrutiny with which gun buyers are screened is not detailed enough. Therefore, they fear that allowing weapons on campus would just end in another horrible massacre.
On the other side, some argue that this is a step in a positive direction. That allowing students and employees to carry concealed weapons is just them exercising their Second Amendment right, and that should not be infringed upon because of the location of the gun owner. It is a heated debate that holds many legal implications. In the case of Kutztown University, school officials felt they must protect themselves from future legal disputes by slightly amending the gun ban on campus.
In approaching this debate, we must find the balance that affords students and school employees security while still offering those same students and employees a safe school and work environment. It will be interesting to see if other state universities follow suit and mimic the legal caution expressed by Kutztown University. With the overwhelming national concern over gun possession, and the recent attempt by President Obama to enforce stricter gun legislation, one does not foresee many followers of Kutztown University.