Campus gun law debate, safety versus freedom

Students and faculty are passionate over the Second Amendment and Ohio’s open carry laws may be disappointed to learn it might not be best to walk around with their guns on campus grounds.

Interloping state laws and University policies are currently in place to restrict or prohibit students and faculty from carrying firearms on campus.

“Ohio law for open carry is that any member of the public can carry openly in the public,” Interim Chief Michael Campbell said. That includes public grounds on the University, such as sidewalks, streets, and parking lots.

However, that’s as far as open carry goes before University policy kicks in.

Firearms are not allowed inside University buildings and residence halls, according to the University Policy on Firearms, Deadly Weapons and Dangerous Ordinance.

Students, faculty, or any member of the public entering University buildings must abide by these University policies. There are some exemptions to the policy, including campus police.

Concealed carry is a different matter altogether, and is restricted even more than open carry.

“If I’m traveling from my house to work, I can conceal carry,” senior associate director, Tim Shaal, of Residence Life, said. “Once I get to campus, I would have to keep the concealed carry weapon in my car. I cannot get out of my car with a conceal carry on campus.”

A license for concealed carry is also required.

Universities are not the only businesses allowed to restrict firearms on their premises, Campbell said. Any private business can prohibit firearms inside its property, including apartment buildings.

Many apartment locations, such as The Edge and Falcon’s Pointe, do not allow tenants to have firearms inside their apartments.

“I don’t believe any other apartments [in Bowling Green] allow guns on [their] properties,” property manager, Molly Goodwin, of Falcon’s Pointe said.

There is a possibility for a change in the University’s firearm policy, and that rests with Ohio’s House Bill 48.

The bill, if passed by the Ohio Senate, would allow permit holders to conceal carry on college campuses. It was introduced last year in February, and the House passed it 68-29, according to the Ohio Legislature’s website.

“I think there’s some honest discussion going on about it,” Campbell said, referencing the pending bill.

There are some states that allow firearms on their campuses and inside residence halls, which creates unique problems or challenges for their schools.

“I had colleagues in Texas who had to figure out how to deal [with] guns being allowed in residence halls,” director of Residence Life, Sarah Waters, said.

There’s always a chance allowing guns on college campuses could go wrong and gun rights issues usually include debate over how much precedence safety should take over the freedom to carry firearms.

So, students, faculty and any public member can open carry on public grounds withing the University, but with the restrictions University buildings have on firearms, there is not much leeway for people, particularly for students who live on campus, when it comes to gun ownership and open carry.