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Guns stay off campus despite legal opinion - The Breeze: News

Guns stay off campus despite legal opinion

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Posted: Sunday, September 18, 2011 8:45 pm | Updated: 9:44 pm, Sun Sep 18, 2011.

University officials are in the process of determining whether a new legal opinion by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli would let students carry guns on campus.

JMU's current policy prohibits any faculty, students or visitors from carrying a weapon, concealed or otherwise, on campus.

"[We're] reviewing the attorney general's opinion and how it may or may not impact our current weapons policy," university spokesman Don Egle said. "Then, once that review has concluded, we will be able to determine the actions necessary, but that will happen after our review is complete."

The review will be completed sometime this semester, but there is no certain date, Egle said.

Cuccinelli's opinion was in response to a University of Virginia policy that prohibited people from possessing a gun on campus without permission from the U. Va.'s chief of police.

"Because the university adopted a policy rather than a regulation, it has not ‘otherwise prohibited by law' persons with a concealed carry permit from possessing a handgun," Cuccinelli said in his opinion. "The policies may not be used to prohibit persons with such a permit from carrying a concealed firearm."

Cuccinelli said U.Va. could not prohibit people from openly carrying weapons, but because it had a policy, which was enforced by the university.

A regulation, by contrast, is given the force of law through registration with the state government through the Virginia Register Act, which gives it the legal strength of a law.

George Mason University's regulation banning guns in campus buildings and during university events was upheld last January by the Supreme Court of Virginia, according to Inside HigherEd, a website for university news.

Gerald Bradner, a senior justice studies major, is the president of the JMU chapter of Students For Concealed Carry.

"We believe that just because you cross onto a campus doesn't mean you are any safer than you are anywhere else," Bradner said. "The Second Amendment rights that citizens enjoy everywhere else, we should be able to enjoy on campus, too."

A concealed carry permit is a document to carry a weapon that is kept hidden by the owner. In Virginia, a citizen must be 21 years or older and display competence to use a handgun, according to the Virginia State Police website.

Political science professor Hak-Seon Lee said people wouldn't be any safer if people with permits were able to carry concealed weapons on campus.

"Guns should only be used by trained professionals," Lee said. "Not all users are getting training. I mean you can go out to Wal-Mart and buy guns."

Robert Eells, a student at Temple University and advocate for concealed carry, was shot in his stomach in an attempted robbery. One of his attempted robbers shot him in the stomach, but Eells shot back and hit the robber in the leg and torso.

Eells said the experience didn't change his views on concealed carry.

"As long as they are responsible and mature, concealed carry on campus shouldn't cause a problem," Eells said.

Freshman Andrea Gonzalez said she would be concerned about campus safety if guns were allowed.

"It could turn bad in a conflict or a fight within the university," said Gonzalez, a nursing major. "If two people got in a fight, one may take out a gun and the other may take one out also and shoot."

In Virginia, the only college campus that allows students to carry guns is Blue Ridge Community College.

Contact Elizabeth Dsurney at dsurneeg@dukes.jmu.edu.