Oct 15, 2013 05:10 PM EDT
Pennsylvania State System to Discuss The Regulation Of Guns On Campus
Students of Pennsylvania's state universities may soon be allowed to carry more than just books to their college campuses.
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A proposed policy that, if regulated, would allow concealed firearms in certain places of Pennsylvania's 14 state university campuses is expected to be discussed at the next Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education board meeting.
State System board member Ron Henry, who chairs the board's finance, administration and facilities committee, told Pennlive.com the system's lawyers are now reviewing the policy proposal recommended by a public safety and security task force that veers away from the complete weapons ban that had been in place on all 14 state university campuses.
The scrutinized policy would allow weapons in areas of the campus that are considered non-sensitive such as sidewalks and areas outside of buildings. Firearms would be banned from "sensitive areas" such as inside campus buildings and sporting, entertainment and recreational events.
Some exceptions to this ban include law enforcement, and extracurricular activities, programs and approved student organizations that frequently use weapons or weapon-like props such as ROTC exercises.
Half of Pennsylvania's 14 system universities adopted a policy that doesn't completely ban weapons from campus, allowing students, faculty, visitors and others to bring guns to campus. Some say regulating this policy could invite beckon trouble to Pennsylvania's state university campuses.
"It scares the heebie-jeebies out of all of us," Steve Hicks, president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties told PennLive.
Joe McGinn, Delaware County sheriff and chairman of the system board, told Pennlive.com that training and awareness are keys to enforcing a policy like that relies heavily on the honor system. The proposed policy would add another layer of protection.
Pennlive suggests the adoption of the new weapons policy was prompted by a federal court decisions, as well as rulings in other states' courts regarding Second Amendment rights as they relate to public institutions.
"Because of those court precedents, State System lawyers thought the blanket weapon bans that were in place at individual system universities could be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge," according to Jan Murphy of Pennlive.com. "They developed a model policy based on one from Virginia's George Mason University banning weapons in certain campus facilities that survived a challenge in that state's Supreme Court."
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Pennsylvania is one of 23 states that allow individual colleges or universities to decide if they'll ban concealed weapons on campus.If implemented, this policy would not apply to Penn State, Pitt, Temple University or private higher education institution in the state.