1. First college in Ohio to allow it
Cedarville University will become the first college in Ohio to allow some form of concealed carry on campus.
The decision comes as Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law in December, allowing individual boards of trustees to decided whether concealed carry would be allowed on their campuses.
Leaders at most of Ohio’s public universities have come out against concealed carry on campus, including Ohio State University. The University of Dayton is not planning to alter its policy which already prohibits guns on campus.
Wright State University at first reinforced its anti-gun policies but trustees said they may regroup after classes start this fall to see what the campus community wants.
2. When and how will it start at Cedarville?
Faculty, staff and trustees at Cedarville University can start carrying a concealed handgun, beginning Aug. 1, according to the school.
But, they must first be granted permission by Cedarville president Thomas White, according to the policy. White said he doesn’t not have a concealed carry license in Ohio so at this point he does not plan on carrying himself.
White and the administration will finalize the conceal carry procedures this summer, according to the school.
“That still gives us time to sharpen any policies, to make sure we’re doing it wisely on campus so that everybody also has time to become comfortable with the idea,” White said.
A task force made up of administrators, campus safety officers, legal counsel, faculty, and other leaders refined the concealed carry policy proposal before it was brought to Cedarville’s board of trustees.
3. Students are still prohibited
The new Cedarville University policy allows faculty, staff and trustees to carry, but not students.
White said he’s “not comfortable yet” allowing students to carry concealed handguns.
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Extending the policy to students could create some “unsafe scenarios” in which a student would need to properly story a gun in a residence hall and know how to clean a gun as well. A person must be 21-years-old to obtain a concealed carry license, so “half of our student body would be ruled out immediately,” White said.
“I think this may be it for us for now,” White said. “I can see a benefit to the other but I’m not convinced of a benefit to that end yet.”
4. Will it create a safer campus?
The university touts itself as a safe campus and officials said that allowing faculty and staff to carry concealed handguns may make it safer.
The policy fits in with Cedarville University’s “run, hide, fight” policy when it comes to campus crime or attackers, White said.
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“We believed it was important to allow our conscientious faculty and staff to have the opportunity to exercise their second amendment rights, and, if necessary, to defend themselves should an incident arise in the future,” board of trustees chairman Rev. Chip Bernhard said in a prepared statement. “It is our prayer, of course, that no one is ever forced to take this type of action.”
White though, said the university has not “had any incidents of that nature.”
From 2013 to 2015, Cedarville University reported no incidents of murder, robbery, assaults or forcible sex acts on campus, according to annual campus safety reports. In that same time period the school reported just one incident of dating violence, seven incidents of stalking, 20 incidents of burglary and one hate crime, according to reports.
5. Where did Cedarville look for inspiration?
White said Cedarville’s administration studied colleges that “demonstrated a safe way to do this,” including schools in Kansas, Texas and Virginia.
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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.
Firearms at Liberty are allowed in most buildings, including student residence halls, according to the college. Students are also allowed to carry at Liberty.