Though much has been made of the CSU Board of Governors’ decision to ban concealed carry on campuses of the Colorado State University system, it has been largely ignored that the Board did not directly make this decision, but rather incorporated the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) Position Statement from August 12, 2008, on Concealed Carry on Campus as a part of a general recommendation. It is this deeply flawed report, and not the Board’s own remarks, that calls for a firearms ban.
One of the first statements by the IACLEA report is “there is no credible statistical evidence demonstrating that laws allowing the concealed carrying of firearms reduces crime.” This statement contradicts the available data on crimes committed within CSU’s boundaries. The data currently available from CSU’s own Campus Police Department begins in 1998, 5 years before Concealed Carry was allowed. It ends in 2008, 5 years after Concealed Carry was allowed. I analyzed the following categories of crimes: Forcible Sex Offense, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Arson, Burglary, and Hate Crimes. These categories were chosen because each could be affected by the presence or denial of legal concealed carry.
A before-and-after comparison reveals startling results. From 2004-2008 there were 54.35% fewer crimes in these categories than from 1998-2002. Starting in 2006 to allow time for the change in policy to take effect and comparing to the corresponding years before the policy change reveals an even more dramatic reduction. The 2006-2008 average was 63.26% lower than the corresponding 1998-2000 average. Forcible sex offenses were reduced by 55.56%, robberies by 50%, aggravated assault by 50%, arson by 56.52%, burglary by 67.16%, and hate crimes by 69.23%. It is unclear why the CSU Board of Governors would neglect their own data in favor of the IACLEA’s unsubstantiated claim that “concealed carry laws have the potential to dramatically increase violence on college and university campuses.”
The IACLEA also makes the false claim “that our Members are empowered to protect” college and university campuses. The campus police have the power to enforce the law within the boundaries of Colorado State University, but court precedent established in Deshaney vs. Winnebago County DSS specifically exempts them from any “duty to protect” the students attending CSU.
The IACLEA report also cites concerns over “accidental discharge or misuse” at “on-campus or off-campus parties” or “student gatherings where alcohol and drugs are being consumed” and a concern that “police officers responding to a situation involving an active shooter may not be able to distinguish between the shooter and others with firearms.” First, accidental discharges are exceedingly rare. Banning weapons for this reason is a akin to banning automobiles because of the potential for brake failure causing a deadly accident. Second, concealed carry will always follow state law at an off-campus event, and there is no evidence to suggest that legal concealed carry will lead to firearm “misuse” at a party. Also, state law already addresses situations where alcohol is available. CWP holders can’t drink and carry, and if caught, they will likely lose their permit. Their third concern addresses officers’ ability to determine the threat in an active shooter scenario. How do officers off campus determine who is and is not a threat? What makes the IACLEA think that officers would suddenly forget, or be unable to comprehend this training just because they are operating in a campus environment?
The IACLEA report also makes use of inappropriate statistics. In their attempt to depict legal concealed carry as dangerous, the report focuses on the behavior of college “gun owners,” but most “gun owners” are not CWP holders. The report confounds the two classes in order to incorrectly imply that CWP holders are more irresponsible than the rest of the student body. The report fails to account for CSU’s requirement that recreational weapons be stored with the campus police, and ignores statistics showing CWP/CHL holders are significantly less likely to commit a crime.
Finally, the report concludes by claiming “despite recent high profile shootings on college campuses, the evidence shows that college campuses are safe environments for students.” This may be true when compared to crime rates among the general public; however, this is not the right question. What the IACLEA should be asking is whether or not campuses are safer with or without concealed carry. If the CSU crime stats referenced above are anything to go by, then the answer is clear and Colorado State University will be far safer if it continues to allow concealed carry on campus.
/******** Crime Statistics referenced in this article are available at files.soderstrome.com/../CSU-Crime-1998-2008.pdf. ********/