Although Cedarville University could become the first college in Ohio to allow some form of concealed carry on campus, school officials don’t consider the move to be groundbreaking.
“It’s not like we’re doing something new that nobody else has ever done,” President Thomas White said last week. “(If approved), we’ll be following behind a whole lot of other people. ”
White said Cedarville officials looked at policies from colleges in Texas, Kansas and Virginia before drafting the proposal trustees will announce a decision on this week. The proposal would allow concealed carry on campus by faculty and staff who are licensed to carry concealed weapons.
Such policies were made possible by the law that was signed last December by Republican Gov. John Kasich and took effect March 21. Previously, guns were not legally allowed on campus, even by faculty or staff with concealed carry licenses. Now, individual boards of trustees can decide whether to allow concealed carry.
Guns on campus is a controversial issue, and Cedarville would be the first university in Ohio to allow concealed carry under any circumstances.
White said Cedarville’s administration studied colleges that “demonstrated a safe way to do this.”
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The rules differ depending on the state. Under Kansas state law, universities have to allow concealed carry in all buildings and public areas leased or owned by a school.
Texas law allows permit holders to carry a concealed gun in most campus facilities with the exception of sports arenas or chemical laboratories.
One school Cedarville’s administrators looked closely at was Liberty University in Virginia. Like Cedarville, Liberty is a private, Christian institution, though with 50,000 undergraduates Liberty is considerably bigger than Cedarville, which has only around 3,300 students.
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Liberty’s concealed carry policy is more expansive than what Cedarville’s trustees are considering. It allows students to carry concealed firearms, something Cedarville officials are not considering. Firearms at Liberty are allowed in most buildings, including student residence halls, according to the college.
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer said he’s worked with Cedarville on its concealed carry plans and answered questions from faculty members last month.
“I’m OK with it,” he said. “I think the Cedarville faculty and administration and trustees are putting a lot of thought into this.”
Cedarville surveyed students, staff and faculty before drafting a proposal. A faculty and staff town hall on the topic also took place in mid-April, according to the school.
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As Cedarville edges closer to allowing concealed handguns, leaders at most of Ohio’s public colleges have come out against it. The University of Dayton has no plans to change its gun policy, UD’s spokeswoman said.
Wright State University at first reinforced an earlier message about guns on campus, but trustees recently said they may host a a forum after classes start next fall to see what the campus community wants. Wright State’s faculty senate has already come out against allowing concealed carry.
The attack last fall at Ohio State University has made people rethink gun policies, Fischer said, though Ohio State’s president too has come out against allowing concealed carry on campus.
Cedarville touts itself as a safe college campus and its leaders believe allowing concealed carry would “further strengthen this reputation.”
Jim Irvine, board president of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said he’s had discussions with other colleges in the past year “and I have a meeting with one in the next week or two.
“So, this is being discussed on many campuses,” he said.
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Staying with the story
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