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Pennsylvania Quietly Adopting Campus Carry Policies

Governor Corbett has been asking universities to review their policies on this matter, and many schools have, including Kutztown, Shippensburg, Edinboro, Slippery Rock, and Millersville. It’s not blanket campus carry at this point, but it’s at least getting a discussion started.

Students with concealed-carry permits had questioned the constitutionality of blanket weapons bans at state-owned universities, prompting a legal review that found such bans were vulnerable to court challenge.

About a year ago, the state system provided a model weapons policy for consideration by all 14 schools “that more narrowly tailored the firearms restriction, addressing both public safety and constitutional concerns,” said Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, a spokesman for the governor’s Office of General Counsel.

It’s always been an up-in-the-air question as to what power state universities had to control guns on campus. Pennsylvania law does not prohibit firearms on college and university campuses specifically, but it’s not clear how much power the state university system has to control students from carrying, or exclude non-student LTC holders from carrying on their campus or in buildings. State law preempts not only local municipalities from regulating firearms, it also prohibits any “political subdivision,” a term which is not defined in the statute. Are the Regents of state universities political subdivisions of the state, given they are state chartered institutions?

Corbett is at least willing to force the universities to start taking those questions seriously, rather than dismissing them and doing what they want. Combine this with the fact that Corbett’s post-Newtown pronouncements on gun control essentially indicated the Governor’s Office would have our back, and it leads me to be quite pleased with Corbett from a gun policy point-of-view. Pennsylvania has a long history of Republican governors being lukewarm to the interests of gun owners, but Corbett is someone I’ll happy volunteer for in the 2014 election. If he doesn’t win another four year term, I believe it will be a major setback for us, especially given the slate of likely opponents are all thoroughly anti-gun.

10 Responses to “Pennsylvania Quietly Adopting Campus Carry Policies”

  1. Patrick H says:

    This is great. I’ll also volunteer to work for Corbett. He needs to win badly. A Dem Gov with Kane is a nightmare scenario.

  2. Archer says:

    We had this issue with campus carry in Oregon. A former Marine (Honorably Discharged) college student with a CHL got “made” while carrying on campus, and was arrested by campus police and jailed. We have “sort of” state pre-emption which allows a “city, county, municipal corporation or district” to regulate firearms possession, but state law also exempts CHL-holders from carry prohibitions on public school grounds, and doesn’t specify differences between elementary, secondary, and college-level schools.

    Legal battle ensued, and the court’s finding was that under state law campus administrators do NOT have the authority to regulate possession, and the student should not have been arrested or even detained (other than a quick-and-totally-reasonable “Do you have a license for that? May I see it? Thanks, carry on.”). State universities now try to get around the ruling by making it a condition of attendance/employment – not a hard “rule” – that students and faculty not carry (i.e. only visitors can carry), so there’s still room for improvement.

  3. Scott says:

    I would love to have campus carry where I work, but I don’t see it happening. Private school in Northern Virginia, in a heavy, heavy liberal democrat neighbourhood. As it stands I know a couple of people do carry, LCP’s and such in pocket holsters, getting caught means getting fired.

    Everyone is tired of me trying to get some positive action on this.

  4. borekfk says:

    Too bad private colleges in PA won’t let this happen. If by some miracle it happens at Delaware Valley College where I go I can see a lot of students open carrying shotguns and hunting rifles rather than handguns.

    • HSR47 says:

      Carrying a slung shotgun or rifle with you as you go about your day is, in my opinion, somewhere between a bad idea and an idiotic idea.

      The fundamental problem is that it amounts to off-body carry.

      In my opinion, if someone is going to carry a loaded firearm, they must maintain control of it; Off-body carry makes this significantly more difficult.

  5. G&g says:

    I worked at Temple university for several years and I carried every day. I knew of at least half a dozen other employees who carried as well. And it wasn’t hard to find students there who would readily admit (online) that they carried on campus.

  6. HSR47 says:

    “About a year ago, the state system provided a model weapons policy for consideration by all 14 schools “that more narrowly tailored the firearms restriction, addressing both public safety and constitutional concerns,” said Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, a spokesman for the governor’s Office of General Counsel.”

    Do you have any details on this?

  7. Zermoid says:

    “political subdivision” sounds pretty clear to me, any lesser political division within the state.
    State Colleges are funded by the State, but are they a political subdivision? I’d think so if the State funds it and sets rules for it. Sticky part would be is it a subdivision below the state or an actual part of the State?

    Private Schools are not political subdivisions, they are private businesses and even if they say no guns it does not carry the weight of Law.
    The worst they can do is fire or expel you (dependent on whether you are a employee or student) from the school, or as in the case of stores and other private businesses you may work for, ask you to leave or refuse you service.
    Which may be a discrimination case if you tried to push it, not sure tho.

    Basically I carry everywhere I go, signs or not, other than those places the State Laws says you can’t carry.
    Some dude at a store can ask me to leave if he notices my gun, but legally I’m not in any trouble.
    Unless you are acting like an ass and refuse to leave, then they ‘might’ be able to press trespassing charges against you, but most won’t say anything even if they do out you.

  8. Ed says:

    There was a change of wording when HB 40 was instituted that changed the Construction section of Section 6109 of Title 18 of the PA Consolidated Statutes. Here is the text:

    (m.3) Construction.–Nothing in this section shall be construed to:
    (1) Permit the hunting or harvesting of any wildlife with a firearm or ammunition not otherwise permitted by 34 Pa.C.S. (relating to game).
    (2) Authorize any Commonwealth agency to regulate the possession of firearms in any manner inconsistent with the provisions of this title.

    Item #2 is the new text that was added. The Commonwealth’s preemption law was to avoid a patchwork quilt of local laws. Since the “Commonwealth” was the only entity allowed to make firearms laws. Unfortunate some Comonwealth agencies (DCNR, PASSHE, PSP, etc.) felt they were authorized to make their own firearms laws.

    This wording was not in the bill vetoed by Rendell, but was added to the bill sent to Corbett. While the anti-gunners were trying to amendment to scuttle the bill this wording was slipped past their goalie.

    PASSHE and every other Commonwealth agency currently has no authority to regulate who may carry on their campuses and buildings. Since this wording nullified any firearms regulations any Commonwealth agencies may have written in the past, or may write in the future.

    PASSHE is hoping by passing something weaker, they may have some say in where firearms may be carried on their campus’. Good luck with that.

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