Virginia Tech is standing pat on its current firearms policy despite legal challenges to gun restrictions on college campuses
In Virginia, universities may prohibit or place restrictions on the carrying of firearms on their own campuses. Tech’s policy is outlined in its policies and procedures, saying that individuals on campus, in campus buildings or attending sports events are prohibited from “carrying, maintaining or storing a firearm or weapon.”
The policies also apply to weapon owners with valid permits.
“We do not believe that it is appropriate for guns to be in the classroom. Period,” said Tech spokesman Mark Owczarski. This policy was in place before the shootings of April 16, 2007, and has not changed since.
Nicole Russell, a junior from northern Virginia, said she didn’t see a “need or necessity” for guns on campus.
“I think it would serve to make the campus a more dangerous place,” Russell said.
Many students nationally, however, do support the idea of allowing concealed weapons on campus.
Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a student organization formed after April 16, supports Texas legislation that would allow students and professors to carry licensed handguns on campus.
Members say it would help make college campuses safer. The group’s website notes that 26 colleges in three states already allow licensed concealed weapons.
“It’s definitely a touchy subject given our school, but I think looking at Virginia Tech, walking around campus versus around town, what makes it any different?” said Matthew Hurt, the chairman of Tech’s College Republicans. Hurt is also a regular columnist for the Collegiate Times. “When you look at school shootings — there have been several instances when shootings have been put to a stop by students with a gun.”
Around the country, 12 states are currently considering legislation that would allow the carriage of concealed weapons on college campuses.
Many gun rights advocates believe that Texas has the best chance of passing the bill into law. Utah is the only state to already have similar legislation in the books.
Like Virginia, many states allow individual schools to determine their own policies about concealed weapons.
Colorado State University, for instance, has chosen to allow individuals with a permit to carry concealed weapons on their
The Virginia legislature has proposed legislation similar to the one now being debated in Texas.
Del. Bob Marshall, a Republican from Prince William County, proposed a bill allowing professors to carry guns on campus shortly after April 16.
“Parents trust teachers with the formal education of their children,” Marshall said. “If you have the confidence handling the gun, the parents will trust you to protect their children.”
The legislation has died in committee two years in a row.
The Virginia Supreme Court has joined the national conversation with a recent ruling on a case involving concealed carry at George Mason University.
The constitutionality of allowing the university to make its own policy was challenged in January when a frequent visitor to GMU’s campus filed a suit against the school, complaining the school violated his Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The court ruled in favor of the university, following precedent to say that firearms can be prohibited in sensitive locations. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wrote a brief supporting the university’s policy.