campus ccw

Campus carry is a contested topic in the ongoing gun debate across the U.S. — but what topic related to firearms isn't polarizing in some capacity?

Georgia and Kansas are two of the most recent states that have enacted legislation allowing concealed carry at postsecondary schools. Texas expanded its own laws to allow concealed carry on community colleges recently.

Whether you're a college student or just visiting higher education facilities, here's a primer on how states restrict or grant the right to carry firearms on college campuses.

Is Campus Carry A Federal Or State Issue?

concealed carry on university campuses

Before answering that question, "campus carry" must first be defined. It's the act of legally carrying firearms on postsecondary educational facilities, including all buildings, parking lots, outdoor locations and any real property under control of a college or university.

But aren't school zones typically areas where firearms are prohibited?

Well, yes.

That's the federal application and it applies to school facilities under 18 U.S.C. § 922(q)(2)(A), initially enacted by the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990.

It bars firearms in "school zones," which are defined in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(25) as locations that are "(A) in, or on the grounds of, a public, parochial or private school; or (B) within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of a public, parochial or private school."

However, firearms may be carried in school zones if they're not loaded and are in a locked container. State laws, additionally, may amend and enact their own policies.

K-12 schools and universities tend to be two different topics altogether.

State laws generally are less restrictive on college/university campuses in comparison to K-12 schools, with policies targeting colleges where the students are fully-capable adults.

These policies fall into one of three options:

  1. Prohibited on campuses
  2. Institutional authority to allow or prohibit
  3. Allowing firearms to be carried without school/government interference

How states choose to legislate will vary across the U.S., as is the case with most current American gun laws.

How Have States Enacted Campus Carry?

Hover Over A State To Learn About Their Campus Carry Laws!

      Guns Always Allowed On Campuses             Campuses Can Choose             Guns Banned On Campus

There are a few ways campus carry is applied at postsecondary education facilities.

It all depends on state legislation, so be sure to research your state before carrying firearms at these locations.

In general, there are a few ways legislation is applied.

Students may be allowed to leave firearms in locked cars in parking lots, with various restrictions on whether or not they may be loaded.

In Nebraska, concealed carry permit holders may travel into parking areas with a firearm in their motor vehicle, but it must be locked in a container when they leave, pursuant to Chapter 28 Section 1204.04.

Students may be allowed to carry only with the permission of educational facilities, as is the case in California after SB 707 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

Weapons may be banned on college facilities, as is the case in Iowa statutes under 681.13.14(5).

Some states like Utah allow open or concealed carry on campus, restricting schools' boards of regents from making any rules barring firearms on campus.

However, Utah students in dorms may be able to request roommates who are not licensed to carry a concealed firearm under Sections 53-5-704 and 53-5-705.

Some states restrict firearms on campus only to concealed carry with a permit, which is the case with Arkansas campus carry measures that were signed into law under HB 1249 and are effective September 1, 2017. Arkansas requires an enhanced concealed carry permit.

Other states like Idaho restrict campus carry only to enhanced concealed carry permit holders, which require a more stringent training and application process.

Minnesota colleges may restrict firearms on their facilities only to students and employees, but in Tennessee as a result of Senate Bill 2376 only employees, not students or others, with permits may carry firearms in the state's public colleges.

Signage may be a requirement to prohibit carrying in campus buildings in various states, such as Wisconsin.

There are 50 applications of campus carry across the U.S.

Who Is Affected By Campus Carry?

There are around 10 states that outright allow campus carry at postsecondary institutions. More often, however, it will either be banned or fall onto the institution to give permission.

ccw on campus

There is a difference between public and private institutions in a state-by-state basis. For example, private schools may opt out of Texas campus carry laws, which recently expanded to include community colleges.

There are varying restrictions on students, faculty and non-students/non-employees. With some states placing restrictions on only one or two of those three categories of carriers.

States across the U.S. will require a permit, require an enhanced permit or not require a permit at all in the case of constitutional carry states.

Some states will have requirements for the type of carrying — openly or concealed.

Because schools have a history of being targeted in mass shooting incidents, legislation is directed one way or another on the matter. There are some alternatives to concealed carrying available if your legislation prohibits you from carrying a firearm.

Many choose to believe that allowing students access to constitutionally protected weapons will give them the power to fight back.

How do you feel about campus carry? Let us know in the comments.

Looking for some more concealed carry information? Check out these blogs brought to you by Bigfoot Gunbelts:

Jake Smith  

About The Author

Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the Pacific Northwest who enjoys shooting pictures and ammunition outdoors.

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