AP Photo/John Mone

Bad News for Gun Banners in Colorado Campus Carry Poll

Anti-gun activists are taking a two-pronged approach in ther bid to repeal Colorado’s campus carry law, which has been in place for more than twenty years. A bill that would turn college campuses (among other locations) into “gun-free zones” has already passed the state Senate, while the CU Board of Regents is set to take up the current policy in June. 

While opponents of campus carry say it’s just common sense to prohibit those with concealed carry licenses from lawfully carrying in a college or university setting, a new poll of college students at the University of Colorado-Boulder and UC-Colorado Springs found majority support for keeping the current policy in place.. at least on one of the campuses.

Students at the University of Colorado’s Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses don’t agree on whether or not to ban concealed carry. 
Surveys conducted by the CU Independent and The Scribe suggest CU Boulder students are far more likely to support a ban against carrying a concealed firearm on campus, while a slimmer majority of UCCS students don’t support such an effort.
Campus concealed carry has been a controversial issue for CU students for decades, but it reemerged in public discourse after a shooting at UCCS in February left two people dead and efforts to ban campus carry were introduced at the Colorado Capitol and CU’s Board of Regents earlier this year. 
The surveys, which have vastly different sample sizes and distribution methods, are unscientific. 
The CU Boulder survey was distributed through the CU Independent’s social media, newsletter, website and other student group partners. It collected 77 responses over eight days.
The UCCS survey was distributed in a university-wide email to all students at that campus. It collected 1198 responses over seven days.

The number of respondents from CU-Boulder is woefully low, which in itself suggests that most students aren’t vociferously opposed to campus carry. Of the 77 students who did respond, however, almost 75 percent said they would like to see campus carry banned. 

Students in Colorado Springs, however, had a more robust response rate and very different attitudes. Almost one in five of the UCCS students who responded to the survey said they have a concealed carry license, and about 56 percent said they oppose efforts to disarm students and staff. 

About 57% of respondents at UCCS said they believed it was very or somewhat likely someone with a concealed carry firearm on campus could prevent a “violent act.” Some 37% said they believed the opposite.
“The likelihood of an individual with a concealed carry permit stopping a violent act is small considering the size of the campus. However, banning concealed carry will not prevent or hinder in any way an individual with violent intentions from openly bringing weapons to campus and using them,” one UCCS student wrote in response to the survey.
“As long as they are trained and licensed, I think [concealed carry permit holders] are beneficial and could prevent a catastrophic event should such an incident occur,” another UCCS student wrote.
At CU Boulder, 64% of respondents said someone with a concealed firearm was somewhat or very unlikely to stop a violent act. About a quarter of other respondents believed such a person would be more likely to prevent a violent act. 
“Increasing the number of guns on campus really only increases the chance of someone getting hurt by the weapons. Accidents happen. Chances of mishandling, emotional moments and general stressors are at a high on a university campus,” a CU Boulder student wrote.

I’ve got some bad news for that student: emotional moments and general stressors are pretty common once you graduate too. The good news is that concealed carry holders are overwhelmingly safe and responsible with their firearms, both on and off-campus, and there haven’t been any real issues with campus carry in the years that it’s been in place in Colorado. 

That’s not to say there haven’t been crimes on campus. UCCS, for example, was the site of a double murder earlier this year. The suspect, however, was in violation of the campus carry policy and had never notified campus officials that he possessed a gun, as students are required to do. 

Repealing Colorado’s campus carry law, either through legislation or an administrative decision by regents, is a solution in search of a problem. It might be popular on some campuses (though again, the sample size at UC-Boulder is really too small to tell us much), but there’s hardly an overwhelming groundswell of support for rescinding the current policy. Lawmakers and regents should err on the side of the Constitution and individual safety and reject the campus carry ban, but with the Senate already approving the carry ban bill it’s likely going to be up to Gov. Jared Polis to veto the measure and allow students and staff to continue to arm themselves for self-defense as they’ve done for decades. 

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