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Monday August 19th 2019

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Concealed Carry on Campus


Inscription above the west portal doors of Norlin Library (from

House Education Committee

Dear Lawmakers,

I am writing to urge you to please support House Bill 13-1226. As a resident of Boulder, home of the largest campus in Colorado, I have particular interest in this issue.

A campus is a place where the exchange of ideas is encouraged, where students are free to explore the fields of study and careers open to them, and where both students and faculty feel safe to express themselves openly and without fear of reprisal. All of these qualities are lost when guns are introduced into the mix. Whereas a university campus evokes the “timeless fellowship of the human spirit,” guns on campus evokes a “might makes right” ethic.

How willing will students and faculty be to engage in debate, challenge each other’s reasoning, and critique each other’s creative works if there are potentially dozens of guns in the classroom? The presence of guns on campus is an affront to the First Amendment. The gun holder may not feel intimidated, and in fact may feel emboldened, but the rest of the campus community will be cowed and the flow of ideas will be stifled.

Concealed carry permit holders will argue that they are responsible, law-abiding citizens. And that’s true—until it isn’t. The fellow who shot another customer in December in a Little Caesar’s Pizza over pizza wait times was a law-abiding, responsible CC permit holder. The man who shot his wife in a restaurant last month when he reached into his pocket to pay the bill was a law-abiding, responsible CC permit holder. Last year, a 24-year-old Weber State University student, a law-abiding, responsible CC permit holder, shot himself in the leg on campus. In 2011, a law-abiding, responsible CC permit holder and Long Island University professor shot himself in his classroom and was tended to by his students until an ambulance arrived. And in November, on a CU campus, a law-abiding, responsible CC permit holder shot and injured two people.

Given the frequency of intentional and unintentional shootings by concealed carry permit holders and the dearth of instances in which a concealed weapon was used to save a life, does it make sense to allow guns on campus? The years that kids spend at college preparing to become productive members of society should open them to the possibilities in life instead of steeping them in a corrosive and nihilistic gun culture.

I hope you will make the rational decision, weigh the obvious and documented risks, and decide that no, guns do not belong on campus. Thank you for your consideration.


Elizabeth Payton

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