TOWN HALL: Students won't be unarmed (poll)

March 9, 2012
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The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled. That means rapists, muggers and other criminals should listen up. Students at the University of Colorado are no longer sitting ducks, thanks to legal activism by a group of students from the Colorado Springs campus.

Students are no longer rendered vulnerable by an idiotic gun ban that only threatened the safety of innocent, law-abiding students and university employees. Among thousands of students on any public Colorado campus will be a few who secretly carry weapons and know how to use them, in defense of themselves and others.

That’s not how the University of Colorado Board of Regents wanted it. The board has long imposed a campus gun ban, even on any student who has been granted a concealed-carry permit by a Colorado sheriff. This ban, of course, tells rapists, muggers, abusive boyfriends or girlfriends, psychotics and all varieties of potential evildoers that CU has eliminated the possibility of anyone shooting back. The law is supposed to apply to innocent students, faculty and criminals. Problem is, criminals are criminals because they disobey laws. The creepiest of criminals gladly ignore serious laws — the kind that impose big penalties for assault and murder. So, it is impossible to get them in voluntary compliance with gun bans. “Gee,” says the criminal. “I was going to shoot up the place and commit murder. Then I read that my gun isn’t allowed on the location of my anticipated crime. To obey this rule, I will have to forgo rape and murder today.”

It’s a ridiculous expectation that obviously gives criminals an advantage over victims. We have seen it play out too many times. At Virginia Tech, for example, a psychotic had his run of the campus for hours because all of his potential victims were obeying a campus gun ban. Bad policy enabled mass murder.

Law-abiding Colorado residents are entitled to concealed carry permits by the Colorado Concealed Carry Act. Passed by the Legislature in 2003, the law says a person with a permit may carry a concealed weapon “in all areas of the state.” Noted exemptions include some federal properties, K-12 schools and buildings with fixed-security checkpoints.

CU regents maintained a belief that they could ban concealed weapons on any property that is under the control of university police. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa told The Gazette that campus gun bans endanger students and faculty, and he pledged to never cooperate with the prosecution of a student arrested for violating a campus gun ban. Maketa has encouraged El Paso County residents to obtain concealed carry permits because he believes in doing so they will deter crime. Campus gun bans only counter efforts by local law enforcement to keep crime under control.

Was Colorado's Supreme Court right to allow concealed carry at the University of Colorado? Vote in poll to the right. Must vote to see results.

Three students in Colorado Springs — members of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus — filed a lawsuit that challenged the gun ban in 2009. They argued that the ban violated the Concealed Carry Act and the Colorado Constitution.

An El Paso County district judge dismissed their suit, saying the board of regents has “its own legislative powers over distinct geographical areas.”

Not so. The Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s opinion, saying the Concealed Carry Act applies statewide. In a unanimous decision last week, the Colorado Supreme Court backed the court of appeals.

With this decision, all government colleges and universities in Colorado must respect the rights of students with permits to carry their guns concealed. There is no guarantee that a student with a permit won’t someday misuse a gun on campus. More likely, students with permits will serve as a deterrent to criminals who don’t obey laws against violence, much less campus gun bans.

By siding with the Court of Appeals, and allowing concealed carry, the state Supreme Court has restored power to law-abiding students and eliminated a guarantee that told criminals their victims would be unarmed.

That's our view. What's yours? Please initiate or join in a Facebook discussion below, and vote in poll to the upper right.

Friend editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen on Facebook, follow him on Twitter

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