Campus Carry on the Hot Seat in Pennsylvania

There are currently fourteen Pennsylvania State Universities that are looking at their concealed weapons policy, citing recent court decisions, and a concern for being good neighbors. I tend to think that the regents of state universities are political subdivisions of the state, and therefore preemption should apply to them. Currently, there’s no law in Pennsylvania that prohibits someone with an LTC from carrying on a college campus. Most colleges and universities ban firearms from campus by policy rather than law.

3 thoughts on “Campus Carry on the Hot Seat in Pennsylvania”

  1. When H.B. 40 passed a year or so ago there was a change in language regarding the ability of state agencies to to regulate lawful possession on firearms.

    Specifically a change to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statues, Title 18, Section 6109, (m. 3).

    (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.

    The PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is a Commonwealth agency. Therefore, PASSHE may not “regulate the possession of firearms in any manner inconsistent with the provisions of this title.”

    More importantly since the 2nd Amendment was incorporated via the due process clause of the 14th Amendment in McDonald v. Chicago, that brings the equal protection clause into play. So having on Commonwealth agency that does not equally protect the right opens the Commonwealth up to liability for violating the civil rights of those who’s right is not equally protected.

  2. That policy-versus-law distinction is a b!tch, though. The courts here found that public school campuses (including K-12 and state colleges/universities) cannot ban the lawful carry of firearms. That, however, doesn’t stop them from making non-carry a condition of employment/attendance.

    IOW, if you’re an employee or student, and you’re caught carrying an otherwise-legal firearm, you won’t be arrested, but you will be fired or expelled, and good luck getting another job or admitted into another university. However, because they don’t “ban” carry, it’s somehow OK to do.

    We’re still waiting on those to be challenged, but it’s a lot trickier to strike at “policies” that only affect employees/students (as opposed to the general “visiting” public) than it is to challenge state preemption violations.

  3. How times have changed. Forty years ago, it was not unknown for undergrads living on campus at PSU to bring their hunting shotguns and rifles to school on fall semester, and keep them in their dorm room. I do not think this was sanctioned by the University, but neither was a big-deal prohibition of the practice.

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