Colorado colleges let students store guns on campus
The Denver Post
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) – Nearly every college and university in the state bars students from having weapons on campus.
But at Colorado’s three largest institutions of higher learning, there are large caches of student-owned weaponry that would be the envy of many police departments.
“We have quite a variety on hand,” said Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt, police chief at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, the last university system that still allows concealed weapons on its campuses.
On any given day, there may be up to 50 rifles with scopes, shotguns, handguns and long knives stored at CSU, the University of Northern Colorado and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Stashed alongside are ninja swords, paintball guns and an occasional martial-arts nunchuck or crossbow.
They are secured in lockers deep inside campus police departments where they are monitored 24 hours a day.
Students with proper identification, a clear background check and a claim tag can take them out any time.
Most of the shotguns and rifles are used for hunting getaways on weekends or on holiday breaks, say officials.
Officials have less of a handle on uses for some of the other weapons.
“I really don’t know why anyone would own a ninja sword,” said Cmdr. Tim McGraw of the University of Colorado Police Department. “But it’s probably not a good thing to have in a dorm.”
Before they are deposited into the locker, the weapons are unloaded by the students, and the ammunition is stored for them as well.
Student gun owners at CSU also must meet another requirement.
“We ask that they put their weapons in a gun carrier when they bring it over to us,” Rich- Goldschmidt said. “We want to keep things low-key, and having someone seen with a weapon on campus could start a panic.”
CSU’s restrictions on weapons may join those of other campuses in February when the Board of Governors is expected to sign off on a ban of concealed weapons.
Rich-Goldschmidt took over as CSU’s police chief this year after six years with the UNC Police Department. Northern Colorado has a gun locker with nearly the same provisions as at CSU, she said.
At CU, students planning to live on campus are advised both online and in print that their “deadly weapons” cannot stay with them in the dorms and must be stored. There is no charge to use the locker.
So far, the policy has worked at CU, said McGraw, a 30-year veteran with the school’s Police Department.
“I understand it’s a social and political issue for a lot of people,” McGraw said. “But when you get a bunch of young people together without adult supervision for the first time, and sometimes with alcohol and some other substance involved, is that a good environment for someone with a gun?
“I think that is a recipe for disaster.”
Just before Christmas break, the CU weapons locker contained six rifles, two shotguns, three handguns, ammunition, two swords (one wooden) and two paintball guns. One paintball gun resembled an Uzi.
“It’s probably good it’s here because if an officer saw somebody coming at him with something like that at 3 a.m., I could see something bad happening,” McGraw said.
The gun lockers were set aside for students for their convenience, say officials.
At smaller, more rural campuses in Colorado where space is tight students must store their weapons at pawnshops or at local police departments.
“We refer our students to two local pawnshops in Durango for storage,” said Fort Lewis College Police Chief Arnold Trujillo. “A lot of kids also have relatives in town, so we ask them to store their weapons there.
“We’ve never had the room for that kind of gun storage, and plus, we don’t want the responsibility.”
At Western State College in Gunnison, student weapons are stored at the Gunnison Police Department, said school spokeswoman Tracy Koehler.
“No guns are allowed on our campus whatsoever,” Koehler said.
The universities with gun lockers say there have been few, if any, problems in managing them. Once, CSU had to reimburse a gun owner because his weapon was damaged during storage, Rich-Goldschmidt said.
There have also been a few times when the CU weapons locker was filled to capacity with more than 60 guns, McGraw said.
“We just had to tell people to send their weapons home,” he said.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.