If you have a son or daughter in college, you already have enough to worry about.
Parents are always concerned for their kids safety… so now add guns to that worry.
For the past year, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education has been debating whether to implement a policy to allow or ban guns completely on college campuses.
FOX43 investigated the battle against the second amendment and why that argument remains in a stalemate.
It’s a war that colleges will undoubtedly deal with for years to come.
Should faculty, staff, and students been allowed to pack heat on campus?
“This is a running debate across the country,” says Kenn Marshall, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.
Pennsylvania state law bans guns at all K-12 schools, but there’s no law regarding guns on public universities.
As of right now, 7 of the 14 state-owned universities have adopted policies which allow guns on certain areas of campus.
The other 7 have bans in place against it.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education began drafting a blanket policy in 2013 which would require all state-owned universities to have the same rules, but slowed its efforts after backlash from both sides.
“We want to take the time necessary to make sure that anything that we do, if we do adopt a uniform policy across the system that it takes into consideration all the factors involved,” says Marshall.
The preliminary policy banned guns in campus buildings and classrooms but not in open areas such as parking lots, sidewalks, and quads…leaving some to wonder just how that would work.
“This is purely logistics, how do we police that?” says East Stroudsburg Student Body President, Justin Amann.
Amann says the students he represents and the majority of the students on the other 13 state-owned universities are against a policy that would allow guns on campus.
“Our question, if we’re going to define sensitive areas and we’re going to say that no guns do not have their place in the classroom building, they don’t have their place in the student university center, they don’t have their place in the dorms – I challenge how we’re going to stop that from happening,” says Amann.
The common argument against allowing guns on campus is focused on funding.
“Are we going to invest in things like metal detectors? To me, that’s asinine as well because we do not have that kind of money,” says Amann.
West Chester University Professor, Lisa Millhous, feels the same way.
Where will the money come from?
“If something like this got passed at the state level how would we afford the additional personnel to do the monitoring?” says West Chester University Professor, Lisa Millhous.
Spokesmen for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education say that factor has yet to be determined.
A deadline for adopting a blanket policy isn’t in place because they say the issue is “so fluid”.
“There have been a number of court cases in recent months where states have been told, universities have been told, they can not prohibit weapons in certain circumstances. There have been states that have attempted to pass outright bans and some of those have been struck down by the courts,” says Marshall.
FOX43’s legal analyst Steven Breit says while the 7 state-owned universities that don’t allow guns on campus aren’t breaking the law, they’re putting their policies up for a possible constitutional challenge of one’s right to bare arms.
“A lot of times the second amendment challenge, especially when you`re dealing with the national rifle institution, you`re dealing with a lot of these lobbying groups and they`re going to put a lot of pressure on not only the institutions but also the legislatures to enact legislation to uphold that second amendment right,” says FOX43 legal analyst, Steven Breit.
That second amendment right, is exactly what those “for guns on campus” are fighting for.
“Taking away those rights from citizens and students who are 21 years of age and older mind you, not 18 or 19 or 20 year olds…is something that is wrong to deny them,” says Firearm Owners Against Crime President, Kim Stolfer.
But the other side believes there needs to be an exception.
“I don’t think necessarily our founding fathers envisioned a world where someone could unload a 30 round clip, change that clip, unload another 30 round clip in the time it would take someone in the Revolutionary War to fire two shots from a musket,” says Amann.
If in fact a blanket policy is adopted allowing guns, Lisa Millhous knows people at West Chester University who would quit their jobs.
“There are faculty that have said to me that would have to really think hard if I wanted to stay here, that is absolutely true,” says Millhous.
But, despite the amount of emotion that plays into this issue, those who deal with the law say very few arguments can withstand a constitutional challenge.
“In dealing with 14 separate schools they want to have uniformity and that`s what`s going to happen, certainly those schools that don`t have a policy in place right now could not survive a constitutional challenge,” says Breit.