Colorado students fight for gun rights

University's bid to prevent Virginia-style rampage is stalled by campus opposition

What seemed like common sense to some is nothing less than an assault on the US Constitution to others, which is why a governors meeting at Colorado State University today to approve a ban on students bearing concealed weapons on its main campus in Fort Collins is likely to be rowdy.

Preventing bloodshed is the first thing on the board's mind. It is three years since the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech that took the lives of 32 students and staff and just under two weeks since Amy Bishop, a professor at the University of Alabama, allegedly shot six of her colleagues, killing three of them.

Yet there has been such a push-back against the plan that the board may defer a decision today to await further public comment. The proposed change in the rules has reignited emotions about the place of guns in American culture. It is a debate that gets snarled in the conflicting logic of gun ownership rights and the simple notion that bullets and blackboards don't mix.

State law allows citizens to carry concealed weapons as long as they have a permit. And many of the 22,000 students at the Fort Collins campus say they should not be treated differently from ordinary Coloradans. In December, the students' governing body voted overwhelmingly to resist the gun ban.

Gun right groups are keen to support the students. The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has warned that imposition of the ban would be met by a lawsuit. And the local sheriff said he would never jail a student for breaking the ban because state and federal law comes before campus law.

Since the Virginia shootings, state legislatures across the US have debated a variety of laws concerning guns in lecture halls, but few have taken significant action. The most recent big change came in Utah in 2004, which voted to lift a decades-old gun ban for the 44,000-strong University of Utah.

Whenever a change in the rules is discussed, national groups rush in with their agendas. On Friday, the Colorado board of governors received a petition from Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC), a group that says young scholars stand a better chance of surviving the kind of rampage that occurred in Virginia if – as it were – they pack a pistol in their pencil case.

"You know, there's a saying: 'When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.' If there was a concealed-carry permit holder nearby, it's possible that a couple lives might've been saved," Tim Campbell, a Fort Collins student and SCCC member, told a local TV channel.

On the other side of the argument is Gun Free Kids, an organisation that began a "Keep Guns off Campus" campaign two years ago in response to the Virginia slaughter. It deploys research from law enforcement groups that suggests that there is no correlation between gun-toting citizens and lowered rates of violence. The group also says that there are few places where guns should be less welcome than on campuses. "With binge-drinking, drug use and the pressures that college students are under, we just think introducing guns into that environment, it's the wrong thing to do," said campaign director Andy Pelosi.

Gun control is especially contentious in the American West with its frontier history, but Brad Bohlander, a spokesman for the Fort Collins campus, said that they would merely be falling into line with restrictions in force in the vast majority of American universities.

"It really came down to two general issues, number one: best practices, just looking at what other universities are doing, and very, very few outside of the state of Utah allow concealed weapons on campus," he said recently. "The second is risk management, and it really comes down to this university is responsible for managing risk on this campus of the students."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments

Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Technical Sales Manager

£45000 - £53000 Per Annum plus bonus plus package: The Green Recruitment Compa...

Humanities Teacher

£110 - £135 per day + Competitive Rates: Randstad Education Maidstone: Outstan...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer SQL, C#, VBA, Data Warehousi...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor