When Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a permitless carry bill into law earlier this year, the legislation also included a provision allowing those with concealed carry licenses to lawfully carry on college campuses in the state. Starting on June 1st, the law will take effect, and the state’s Board of Regents, which oversees the management of the state’s higher learning system, has put together a draft proposal to establish a blanket statewide policy on all campuses, and yesterday members of the public got to weigh in.
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we take a look at some of the objections voiced by some students, faculty, and alumni over the measure, and why the arguments against campus carry are off base.
One of the common objections voiced by opponents on Wednesday is that college students can’t handle the responsibility of gun ownership.
Lindy Kolb, who has worked as a resident advisor at Montana State University, said she has faced belligerent students she is documenting for conduct violations.
Kolb said she was deeply concerned about a draft board policy to implement a law that allows guns on campus, and she said it’s inevitable that a person will be harmed as a result.
“Guns are tools, but so are hot plates, and we don’t allow those in the residence halls for safety reasons,” Kolb said.
As one pro-campus carry staffer at Montana State University said in response, hot plates aren’t protected by the Constitution.
Beyond that though, why are we treating college students as if they’re incapable of being responsible enough to live on their own? The fact of the matter is that the state of Montana recognizes the right to carry starting at the age of 18, and that concealed carry holder is going to be as responsible off-campus as they are on-campus. It makes no sense whatsoever to draw an arbitrary line and say that individual is responsible enough to carry across the street from the university, but not responsible enough to set foot on campus with their legally-carried firearm.
According to the Missoula Current, most of those in opposition to the Board of Regents’ draft proposal want to see the higher ed body challenge the new law in court.
Many members of the public described the law as overreach by the Legislature and urged the Board to keep its current policy in place and go to court instead. Douglas Coffin, faculty member at UM, agreed the law clearly violated the Constitution in undercutting the obligations of the Board of Regents to govern campuses, but he also said the Regents’ policies state the people must have the opportunity for a safe and positive learning environment in Montana.
“There are contradictions at hand there,” Coffin said.
Canyon Lock, vice president of the Associated Students at the University of Montana, said if the Regents don’t challenge the law, it will be clear that political influence overrules the Board.
“What reason is there for the state of Montana to have a Board of Regents?” Lock said.
Well, the board only has a few weeks to make its decision before the law goes into effect. I expect that the Board of Regents will ultimately file suit over the new law, though the fact that they haven’t done so already gives me a little bit of hope that they’ll do the right thing and adopt their draft policy.
I’ve seen the same scary predictions of shootouts in the Student Union and professors having guns pulled on them by students angry over a grade when campus carry was approved in Texas five years ago and in Kansas a year later. In fact, the dire warnings were hard to miss. They even garnered national media attention at the time. Of course, the followups years later that demonstrate there’ve been no issues with campus carry don’t get much traction beyond the college newspaper.
There hasn’t been a single state to adopt campus carry that turned around and repealed the law because of all the trouble it’s caused, because it doesn’t cause trouble in the first place. The anti-gun academics in Montana need to take a deep breath and relax. The sky is not falling and the world will not end if campus carry takes effect. In fact, I’d be shocked if any of them noticed any difference in the campus at all.