Colorado State University joined most major colleges nationwide in forbidding concealed weapons on campus Friday in a decision that pitted faculty asking for a ban against students demanding the right to carry guns.
The university's Board of Governors voted 7-0 Friday to outlaw firearms on its campuses in Fort Collins and Pueblo.
Guns are already off-limits at K-12 schools in Colorado, the University of Colorado and at virtually all campuses nationwide. But Colorado State University has followed state law that allows people to carry guns, even concealed weapons with the right permit.
Both concealed and unconcealed weapons will now be banned.
Officials said the gun ban will leave Utah campuses as the only ones where concealed weapons are allowed. Utah has a law allowing concealed weapons on state property, and a court has ruled there is no exception for colleges.
Colorado State board members acted Friday after a faculty group at the Fort Collins campus asked for a ban.
"Overwhelmingly the faculty feel our campus will be a safer place" with a concealed weapons ban, said Dan Turk, associate professor of computer information systems.
Student government opposed ban
But many students opposed the ban, and the student government at the Fort Collins campus urged the board not to ban guns.
Student Brady Allen, who lawfully carries a weapon on campus, told the board that fear of an accidental discharge from a concealed weapon was a silly reason to ban guns.
"You might as well ban everything that has a potential risk — cars, alcohol and sports," said Allen, a 25-year-old history student and former U.S. Marine.
Almost all college campuses nationwide ban concealed weapons. But gun-rights advocates say the bans make students vulnerable to attack. The question took on greater prominence after a gunman at Virginia Tech killed 32 people and wounded 23 before killing himself in 2007.
Since the Virginia Tech massacre, proposals to repeal campus gun bans have been considered in many states, although none has been repealed.
Currently, 26 states ban concealed weapons on any school property. Twenty-three states, including Colorado, allow individual campuses to decide for themselves, though CSU officials say they don't know of any other major schools that allow concealed firearms.
Gun owners must be 21
In Colorado, it's unclear how many students at either campus are permitted to carry concealed weapons. The campuses don't keep records.
But spokespeople for both schools have said they suspect that few carry guns. Many students aren't even eligible, because Colorado requires permit holders to be 21.
Colorado State's unusual gun policy stems from a 2003 Colorado law that made concealed weapons legislation statewide, not variable by county. After that, the University of Colorado in Boulder banned concealed weapons.
Gun rights activists sued, arguing CU couldn't change state law on campus.
When a judge sided with CU in April, upholding the gun ban, the faculty at Colorado State's Fort Collins campus proposed a ban there, too.
Now it's up both Colorado State presidents to write and enact gun bans on their campuses. The board's vote sets no timeline.