A Pennsylvania university has become the first educational institution in the state to revise its longstanding policy to allow students and employees with state-issued permits to carry concealed firearms in open areas of the campus. Under the new policy at Kutztown University, any employee or student with a permit and "compelling" personal safety reasons can request authorization to carry concealed from campus authorities. Authorization will be granted on a case-by-case basis.
The policy change, which became effective April 19, was made following a determination by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) that a blanket weapons prohibition on campus is unenforceable, as well as unconstitutional. In an email explaining the policy change to students, Kutztown President F. Javier Cevallos said the university was following the advice of legal counsel to comply with the Second Amendment.
"I can assure you that we have done everything to implement the strongest policy possible, while staying in compliance with constitutional rights," Cevallos wrote.
With a student body of just fewer than 10,000, Kutztown University is located in a rural area about 15 miles from Allentown, PA. With Kutztown's recent action, it is expected the 13 other state-run colleges and universities will soon adjust their own concealed-carry policies to comply with federal law.
John Haller, Pennsylvania director of Students for Concealed Carry, welcomed Kutztown's revised policy, calling it "a positive movement."
In related campus-carry news, HB 972, which decriminalizes concealed carry on state college and university campuses in Texas, passed the state House of Representatives and has now moved to the Senate floor for action. Currently, students and faculty members are permitted by law to carry guns on public campuses in five states—Colorado, Mississippi, Utah, Wisconsin and Oregon.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, in addition to the five states where campus carry is permitted, 23 states place the decision to ban or allow concealed carry upon each individual college or university. Those states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. Prior to the Kutztown University policy changes, there were a total of 206 colleges that allow those holding permits to carry handguns on state campuses, according to data compiled by Students for Concealed Carry.