The University of Colorado is considering modifying the housing contracts on its Boulder and Colorado Springs campuses to prohibit students from having guns in dormitories.
The change would require students who have permits to carry concealed weapons to waive that right and check their firearms at the campus police station while they're in on-campus housing.
The ban could also include some venues like the football stadium, according to CU officials.
Such a move is likely to draw a legal challenge
"CU doesn't have the authority to pass rules that are contrary to state law," said James Manley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
The item is on the agenda to be discussed at Thursday's Board of Regents meeting on the Auraria campus.
In March, the Colorado Supreme Court upheld an appeals court ruling striking down CU's decision to ban weapons on campus. The court ruled that the regents were in violation of the Concealed Carry Act, which states that a person with a permit may carry a concealed weapon "in all areas of the state ."
School officials said today the possibility of amending the housing contracts wasn't an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court, but rather a response to concerns from the community.
"Many of the parents of our incoming students understand the Supreme Court ruling and know that there will be weapons on campus, but they feel pretty strongly that they shouldn't be in the residence halls. That's the discussion we're going to have with the board," said Phil DiStefano, chancellor of the CU-Boulder campus.
DiStefano said the university is also considering extending the ban to a number of ticketed events held on campus, the most prominent example being football games at Folsom Field.
Manley, who represented the group that argued against CU in the Supreme Court, said the discussion is tantamount to the university "trying to sneak a ban in through the back door."
"The state law is clear and it would be a shame if CU doesn't respect that," he said. "It looks like they're trying to get people to waive their Constitutional rights in order to engage in on-campus activities."
The Concealed Carry Act only applies to citizens 21 years of age or older, which amounts to only about 7 percent of the students on the Boulder campus, DiStefano said.
Pam Shockley-Zalabak, chancellor at CU-Colorado Springs, said 17 percent of the students on her campus are over 21. She contends, however, that the age of the student isn't really the overriding concern anyway.
"Residence halls, with a mix of ages, represents a unique circumstance that you have to look at carefully," she said. "The carry permit isn't the concern, it's what happens after the gun is in the apartment, or in the dorm. I have a gun, but I have four or five roommates — is the gun accessible to underaged people?"
The Board of Regents is not required to take any action regarding the issue, possibly deferring to the judgment of the administration. It could, however, eventually take a vote on what course of action to pursue. In that case, some observers feel the matter would be decided, either way, by a 5-4 vote, as was the case on the initial decision to ban weapons from campus.
If that's the case, the deciding tally might well belong to Tilman "Tillie" Bishop. He said today it would be premature for him to discuss how he might vote.
"Before anything is decided there has to be a discussion with the other regents, and then all the issues will come out and the chips will fall where they may," he said.
Manley said if CU does pursue the modification, his group would consider taking legal action against the school, a circumstance that DiStefano said would come as no surprise.
"We have to make decisions, not based on whether there will be a lawsuit, but what is in the best interest of our students, faculty and staff," DiStefano said.