Allowing for the possession of firearms at colleges and universities is an issue that continues to draw the attention of state lawmakers. During 2018 legislative sessions, more than 35 state bills regarding campus carry were introduced across the country. While some state lawmakers press for unlimited campus access to firearms, others seek to prohibit access and continue longstanding bans on weapons of any kind. While most of these laws affect only public institutions, some bills have impacted independent colleges and universities, directly and indirectly. As the number of incidents of school and workplace-related shootings increases, the issue of campus carry and how to prevent gun violence will remain an important concern for boards and policymakers.
AGB has tracked campus safety and campus-carry legislation as part of its larger efforts to assist boards on matters of public policy. For example, in the September/October 2017 issue of Trusteeship magazine, writer Kim Krisberg lays out the legislative battles taking place in statehouses throughout the nation. Campus carry has also been the focus of AGB webinars, reports, and formal programs such as the National Conference on Trusteeship. It is AGB’s view that—regardless of an individual’s perspective on the Second Amendment to the Constitution—the decision to allow firearms on campus is best left to governing boards in their role as fiduciaries. State laws that override board authority in such matters also erode institutional autonomy, board independence, and principles of self-governance. As fiduciary bodies, boards best understand the complexities of governing their institutions and systems, which differ in location, size, and purpose, and boards have legal responsibilities to ensure that their institutions fulfill their missions and are safe places where all members of their communities can thrive.
- What is our institution’s policy related to guns on campus and does it conform to current state and federal law?
- When was the last time the board reviewed policies related to campus carry and are those policies still effective?
- What are the ramifications of a change in state law? How would the institution be affected, both visibly (like the addition of metal detectors to sports stadiums) and invisibly (such as effect on academic learning)?