The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 8th

Guns allowed on campus as of today

Concealed carry permit owners will now legally be allowed to bring handguns onto UNC-CH’s and other public universities’ campuses, as a new state law goes into effect today.

But private colleges and universities in the state can still enforce their own campus gun policies — and Duke University, Elon University and Meredith College have all indicated that they will continue to ban guns.

The law allows concealed carry permit holders to bring a gun onto a campus as long as the weapon is stored in a closed compartment or container within a locked car. The car must be in a public parking area.

The law had been opposed by UNC-system officials and campus police chiefs across the state prior to being passed by the N.C. General Assembly this summer.

Advocates of the law have said it will allow legal gun owners to exercise an already-permitted right and will lead to increased safety on campuses.

But Randy Young, spokesman for UNC-CH’s Department of Public Safety, said law enforcement officers already tasked with protecting the campus community could potentially do it better than a citizen with a firearm on campus.

“Law enforcement officers have training and equipment for alternatives to using firearms, such as tasers,” Young said. “Not every firearm owner has those alternatives to diffuse a situation available to them.”

Still, Young said the law will be enforced on campus, and it impacts a limited number of people in specific circumstances.

“We have some major concerns about weapons on campus,” Young said. “But it needs to be clarified that this applies to a very small number of situations.”

Meanwhile, several private university officials say they will not change campus gun policy to mirror the law.

Smith Jackson, vice president for student life and dean of students at Elon, said existing policies have worked well on campus, and said he wonders why there needs to be a change.

“For years, we have had a policy banning guns. We post signs around parking lots letting students know that guns are not allowed on campus,” Jackson said.

“Why would we need guns on a college campus other than the law enforcement that is trained to do so?”

Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president of administration at Duke, said he agrees that there does not need to be a change in gun policy at his campus.

“Guns are not allowed on campus,” he said. “This has been our practice for many years, and will continue to be.”

Young said while the less restrictive gun rules will be enforced at UNC-CH, he is unsure that the new policy will make for a safer campus.

“We do not believe that bringing guns closer to an academic environment is helpful, and it can lead to more issues than it solves.”

state@dailytarheel.com

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