National Center for Campus Public Safety

Policy Development and Implementation of Legislation Permitting the Carrying of Concealed Handguns on College and University Campuses: Promising Practices

Download the campus carry report.
There has been a movement in state legislatures across the country to pass laws relating to the carrying of handguns on one’s person. One method is to permit citizens to carry handguns openly visible without a permit (known as “open carry”). Another approach is to permit citizens to carry concealed handguns through a permitting system (referred to as “concealed carry”). There are also states that allow the concealed carrying of a handgun without a permitting system. In the wake of this legislation, proponents of concealed carry have raised concerns about limitations on the locations where citizens can take firearms. These include government buildings, medical facilities, high-attendance public events, and schools, among others. One growing focus, in particular, has been the carrying of handguns on college and university campuses.

As a result of expanded state legislation across the U.S. permitting the carrying of concealed handguns on college and university campuses, many institutions have been required to develop concealed carry policies that meet the mandates of state laws. It is imperative that while ensuring a safe environment on campus, colleges not inhibit the academic freedom of the institution by placing real or perceived restrictions on speech in the classroom or permitting real or perceived intimidation of the campus community as a result of the language of a policy.

Because of the complexity of issues, campus public safety officials requested assistance from the National Center for Campus Public Safety (NCCPS). Based on these requests and the growing national movement toward campus carry legislation, the NCCPS convened a forum of campus public safety executives, federal officials, and subject-matter experts on November 15–16, 2016 to identify critical items to consider during the development and implementation of policy and procedures reflecting current legislation regarding campus carry. Developing a nationwide model policy was not feasible because of the differences in state legislation that authorized what has become known as “campus carry” and due to the wide variability in the characteristics of campuses across the country.

This report reflects the findings of the forum that provide informed guidance to institutions of higher education in the process of developing or anticipating the need to develop such a policy.

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