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University of Colorado to consider banning concealed carry on all campuses

The University of Colorado in April will discuss for the first time since 2012 imposing a ban on people carrying concealed weapons on its campuses.

CU allows concealed carry on its campuses, making it an outlier among higher education institutions nationwide. Concealed carry was banned on the CU campuses for more than 40 years until 2012, when a related lawsuit was brought to the Colorado Supreme Court. The court ruled CU did not have the right to ban concealed carry, and since then, it has been allowed on campus.

CU Regent Wanda James proposed revising the policy to ban concealed carry on Tuesday during a Board of Regents committee meeting. The proposal comes after students, faculty and staff advocated for a concealed carry ban at CU.

“I’ve been a regent now for a little over a year and almost every meeting we have stepped in, we have had students, faculty or staff asking us to take up this motion,” James said. “It is difficult for me as a regent to sit down and to see so many people asking me or asking us to make changes in their house and then not at least having the conversation to make changes.”

The Board of Regents, the elected board that oversees all CU campuses, is charged with making decisions about the university’s concealed carry policy. CU’s existing policy allows people over 21 and with a valid permit to possess concealed firearms on any campus, except in residence halls and special event zones like sporting events and concerts.

When proposing the policy changes, James said she is the only regent who is a military veteran and founded a gun range that trains people who are applying for concealed weapons permits.

“That being said, I am a staunch Second Amendment supporter,” James said. “But like all things, I don’t believe that all things should be in all places all the time, and if there is any place where we should be able to agree that we don’t need the presence of guns, it’s in higher ed.”

The process for the regents to implement a concealed carry ban began Tuesday with James bringing the proposed changes to a committee meeting. A notice of motion will appear at the next regular Board of Regents meetings on April 11 and 12, when the board will discuss the changes. The proposal will return to the committee at its next meeting on June 4 for consideration and discussion. The committee will vote on whether to recommend the changes to the full Board of Regents.

The board is expected to have the opportunity to vote on whether to approve the ban at its regular meeting on June 20 and 21. The proposal may still move forward to the Board of Regents for consideration in June without a recommendation from the committee.

Regent Mark VanDriel said he’s looking forward to hearing comments from the public in the coming months as the regents consider the policy change.

“This is the time to get input from people, and I appreciate Regent James for bringing it, and I’m looking forward to discussing this,” VanDriel said.

Shelly Miller, chair of the Boulder Faculty Assembly, spoke during the committee meeting to reiterate the group’s support for a ban on concealed carry. Miller said it’s a public health threat and a threat to students, faculty and staff.

“We talk about this a lot in Boulder Faculty Assembly,” Miller said. “We’re always asking what are the regents doing and not hearing anything, and I’m excited to hear that you are speaking about it today.”

In 2021, the Colorado legislature passed Senate Bill 21-256, essentially reversing the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision that CU did not have the right to ban people who conceal weapons. The 2021 law allows local governments and governing boards of higher education institutions in Colorado to choose how to regulate concealed carry.

There currently is no specific statewide legislation in Colorado that bans concealed carry on college campuses, but that could change soon. Senate Bill 24-131, currently under consideration at the state level, would ban concealed carry in “safe spaces” including higher education institutions. If state legislators approve the bill, and it becomes law, it also would affect concealed carry at CU.

CU System Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Lightner said changes at the state level wouldn’t necessarily render a Board of Regents policy change irrelevant.

“This resolution will allow the ban to go forward under existing law rather than this new law that might be passed, and further, it could change in the future,” Lightner said. “So this is a statement on the part of the regents, which as long as it is not contradicted by state law, would allow us to go through any number of changes at state law without seeing the Regent law impacted.”

Regent Lesley Smith said the “safe spaces” bill may cause the issue to be resolved before the June Board of Regents meeting.

“Personally I think, especially having been on a school board, (guns) are not allowed in K-12 so why allow them in any institutions of higher ed,” Smith said.

The policy changes would affect all CU campuses, Boulder, Denver, Colorado and the Anschutz Medical Campus.

The changes to the concealed carry policy are available for viewing at under the March 19 University Affairs Committee Meeting tab. The policy will be posted on CU’s Office of Policy and Efficiency website at where members of the public can share comments and feedback.

The Board of Regents will discuss the matter next at its April meeting.

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