Kutztown University, a state-owned university in eastern Pennsylvania, has recently made changes to their policy concerning firearms, which now allows guns to be carried in some areas of the campus, under certain conditions. While Second Amendment advocates are considering it a small victory, gun control advocates are appalled at the university’s decision.
The policy was changed on April 19, but students only found out about the change yesterday when the university president emailed a letter explaining the change. As expected, there were mixed reactions about the news.
Spokesman for the State System of Higher Education, Kenn Marshall explained that the decision came after suggestions from legal counsel and the Office of General Counsel, which is the legal arm of the governor’s office, both confirming that an outright ban of weapons on campus, such as what it’s been in the past, would be unconstitutional since it is a state-owned university and is considered public property.
Marshall said, “We are always looking at our policies to make sure they are appropriate. The legal advice that the university received was that an outright weapons ban, a complete weapons ban, would not withstand legal muster. … Our properties are public properties and there is just so far you can go.”
Marshall also explains, “This change has been made to comply with the Second Amendment.”
While all 14 state-owned universities have been given the same legal advice concerning their weapons policies, Kutztown is the only university known at this point to have initiated changes to policy.
While the new policy does not necessarily change Kutztown University into Wild West U, the new policy will allow all students, employees, visitors and contractors on the property who have a concealed weapons permit to request permission from the University Chief of Police to carry firearms on campus. Although the policy will permit firearms in open areas of the campus, it still prohibits weapons inside the university buildings as well as at sporting events or any other events on or sponsored by the university.
Justin Clark, a freshman at the Kutztown, told a local NBC affiliate, “Kinda scares me, honestly … There’s so many different variables when it comes to guns. It’s like, anything could go wrong.”
Another freshman, Haley Appell, was not happy about the change. “Definitely, potentially could make things a lot more dangerous. You know, you never really know who is gonna have a license to carry. You don’t know, like, what their state of mind.”
While some students are uneasy about the change, Campus Leader for Students for Concealed Carry, Robert Fallstich told a local ABC affiliate that he wants to see even greater changes in the policy, allowing firearms throughout the entire facility.
“I want to be able to respond to an assailant who wants to stab me, harm me, mug me, take whatever I have, or assault any of my classmates here.” With the new policy, Fallstich would only be able to protect himself or his classmates if such an occurrence happened in the open areas of campus where he is legally allowed to carry. If a threat occurs within campus buildings, Fallstich would most likely have to depend on campus police for assistance.
Concerns over safety with the new policy are understandable, especially when taking into consideration the potential state of mind of those that may come onto campus with firearms, as previously pointed out by a student at the university. Perhaps by keeping both universities and other areas gun-free zones, this helps to ensure the safety of those attending by not allowing anyone armed and potentially dangerous on campus.