8 | COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL AACC.NCHE.EDU
Virginia Tech University.Sandy Hook Elementary.
Umpqua Community College.
These institutions hail from different parts of
the country and span multiple levels of education
yet share the provision of excellence in education.
They are responsible for changing lives of students
by empowering them through education, yet each
also is well known for another reason. Each of these
educational institutions share the traumatizing story
of active shooter events which changed the lives of
students, faculty, staff and leadership.
In the wake of violent incidents such as these,
colleges and universities across the country have
dramatically increased the priority on safety and
security on campus. Higher education leaders
have increased the focus and the resources available to improve the safety and security of students,
faculty and staff on campus. Additionally, state
legislators have responded from their position of
leadership by developing new statutes addressing
possession of weapons in educational facilities,
facilities where weapons have been historically
prohibited. In fact, the vast majority of colleges and
universities until very recently banned all guns on
campus. Over the last several years however, legislators passed new laws allowing, and in some cases
requiring, institutions of higher education to allow
concealed weapons on campus.
As colleges and universities consider concealed
carry policies, leaders must remember that policies
tend to be based more on people and their behavior
than processes. Put another way, it can be difficult
to develop and enforce a policy without sufficient
research, discussion and buy-in. Even well-intended
policies may be ineffective if they are too complicated
to understand or enforce.
RESPONDING TO CONCEALED CARRY POLICIES
I conducted research last year on the topic of college
concealed carry policy to better understand the processes involved in the development of these policies.
In particular, my focus was on these processes from
the president’s perspective. The research resulted
in some interesting findings which included the
following general themes:
• Most colleges indicated this particular policy
process was the most divisive in recent memory,
including strong support and opposition.
• In general, the respondents tended not to articulate
an alignment between the institution’s mission and
• A strong need for collaboration was noted, leading
to a longer development and implementation
process than similar college policies.
• Colleges dramatically increased their focus on
safety and security for all students, faculty and staff.
• States which forced institutions to develop concealed carry policies tended to provide a lack of
clear direction on how those policies were to be
developed, resulting in some confusion and conflicting legislation.
One president indicated, “They gave discretion to
universities and colleges to declare parts of campus
Concealed carry policy development
By Matt Franz