May 11, 2013 06:42 AM EDT
Kutztown Adopts Policy in Compliance with the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms
Kutztown University, a state-run Pennsylvania institution, has amended its campus policy to allow students and employees with legal permits and compelling safety reasons to carry concealed guns in open areas, after seeking approval from campus police on a case-by-case basis.
However, all firearms are still banned from academic buildings, student residence halls, dining facilities, and sporting, entertainment, educational and other events sponsored by the university.
Kutztown announced its decision after a legal advisory was passed by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), stating that an all-out weapons bans would not be legally defensible under state law. The legal advisory was introduced based on a study of university security policies by the PASSHE.
This policy was agreed to last month but was made public Thursday. On April 19, Kutztown became the first among the 14 state-owned universities to adopt the new policy change.
"While I am cognizant of the concerns associated with this change, as a state institution we must follow the advice of legal counsel and do what is necessary to comply with the Second Amendment," Kutztown president F. Javier Cevallos said. "I can assure you that we have done everything to implement the strongest policy possible, while staying in compliance with constitutional rights."
Despite the freedom imposed by the university, the Uniform Firearms Act of 1995 requires a person to be 21 years and older to be able to hold a license in order to carry a concealed weapon.
But PASSHE officials are having second thoughts on the policy, and have advised its member schools to abstain from making any policy changes for the moment. A task force is being created to once again look at the campus gun policy.
"Being that the policies are under review by the PASSHE Board of Governors, and the revision is new to us, we still have to determine the various procedures as to how each situation would be handled," KU spokesman Matt Santos said. "While KU offers a safe environment, anyone who has a concern about their safety in transit to class can call public safety and police services and request a safety escort."
John Haller, the director of a student concealed carry advocacy group, said that well-trained and licensed Pennsylvanians have the right to carry concealed weapons. By advocating such a policy, students are not posing a risk to the campus community but strengthening their defensive mechanism against violence on campus.
"Criminal activity can happen anywhere and I think you saw that very clearly with the Boston bombings. Of course, universities want to create a dynamic academic environment where people can exchange ideas safely, but the carrying of firearms by properly trained and licensed people is not incompatible with that, quite frankly. We should be allowing college students the ability to defend themselves."
While students and campus communities are busy contemplating the policy change, others are discussing among themselves what one could do with a concealed weapon once they reach their classroom buildings.
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