CU Professor Jerry Peterson, chairman of the Boulder Faculty Assembly
CU Professor Jerry Peterson, chairman of the Boulder Faculty Assembly (University of Colorado)

The state Supreme Court has made it clear that the University of Colorado can't stop students with concealed-carry permits from bringing their guns to campus. But the chairman of the Boulder Faculty Assembly says if he ever discovers that any of his students are armed, class is over.

CU physics professor Jerry Peterson -- speaking for himself Monday, not the faculty group he leads -- said he wants his students to feel safe to engage in classroom discussions that could be controversial.

"My own personal policy in my classes is if I am aware that there is a firearm in the class -- registered or unregistered, concealed or unconcealed -- the class session is immediately canceled," Peterson said. "I want my students to feel unconstrained in their discussions."

The Boulder Faculty Assembly has not taken an official stance on the campus's new gun rules, Peterson noted.

In March, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled against CU, saying the school cannot ban concealed-weapon permit holders from bringing their guns to the university's campuses. Last week, CU rolled out new student-housing regulations barring guns in the Boulder campus dorms, but allowing them in some family housing units.

James Manley, the attorney who brought the original lawsuit against CU on behalf of a student gun-rights group, said that Peterson's comment about canceling classes is "peculiar" because the professor likely won't know if somebody is legitimately concealing a gun.

"I imagine the folks paying for his class would be disappointed if class is canceled every time somebody exercises their right to carry," said Manley, who is a graduate of CU's law school.

Patrick O'Rourke, chief legal officer for the CU system, said professors cannot stop concealed-carry permit holders from bringing their guns into classrooms or labs.

Bronson Hilliard, a spokesman for the Boulder campus, said that professors may ask students to not bring guns into their classrooms. But, he added, students with concealed-carry permits are not obligated to comply with those requests.

The fall semester at CU begins Monday. Students begin moving into the dorms Tuesday.

Greg Carey, a psychology professor at CU, said he doesn't plan to outline any gun policies in his own classes.

Students at CU are split on whether their peers should be able to bring firearms into the classroom.

Mechanical engineering sophomore Mitch Kasyou said he sees no place for guns in classrooms or labs.

"It makes me uneasy," Kasyou said.

He said that in a crisis, citizens with guns could add to the chaos and complicate the police response.

Madison Gardei, a junior studying international affairs, said she believes those who have permits should be allowed to bring their guns with them to class. Though she doesn't plan to get a concealed-carry permit, she said that her father is a hunter and properly locks up his firearms and that she believes in the Second Amendment.

"I think CU is a safe campus and if people want to carry guns, they should have the right," she said. "I know that will make some people uncomfortable."

The university last week announced that guns will not be allowed in the Boulder campus's dorms or Bear Creek Apartments, a restriction CU says it can impose through its housing contracts. However, the school will allow those with concealed-carry permits to bring their firearms into some family housing units -- about a dozen university-owned cottages and some select units in the Athens North complex.

CU also will ban guns at ticketed events, which include everything from football games to concerts.

The Office of Parent Relations sent an e-mail to parents outlining CU's new rules last week. Since then, the office has received about 34 responses, Hilliard said. Twenty-one were simply to thank the office for the update, seven expressed support for the policy and six were classified as being in opposition, Hilliard said.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.