University of Colorado President Bruce Benson
University of Colorado President Bruce Benson

As activists on both sides gear up for a potential November ballot measure banning concealed guns on public Colorado campuses, new research from the University of Toledo finds that the majority of university presidents oppose concealed weapons, both on and off campus.

The research, published in May in the Journal of American College Health, found that 95 percent of respondents, all college or university presidents, were "not supportive of students, faculty and visitors carrying concealed handguns on campus," and 69 percent were also not supportive of concealed handguns being carried off campus.

University of Colorado President Bruce Benson wouldn't comment on the research, though he has said in the past he's against all weapons on CU's campuses.

The university's Board of Regents are divided on the issue, and have not discussed it publicly as a board since last year.

"Because members of the Board of Regents have differing views on the issue of guns on campus, President Benson does not take a public stand on it," university spokesman Ken McConnellogue said. "CU continues to follow state law."

The regents had enacted a campus weapons ban in 1970, and strengthened it in 1994. In 2012, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the board did not have the authority to enact such a ban, which contradicted state law.

Legislators attempted last year to ban concealed weapons at public campuses, but that measure failed.

If enough valid signatures are collected, a November ballot measure would ask voters to add public colleges and universities to the Concealed Carry Act, a 2003 law that bans concealed weapons at K-12 schools, some federal properties and buildings with fixed security checkpoints, such as courthouses.

As the law stands now, people 21 and older are allowed by state law to carry a concealed weapon after obtaining a permit, and private colleges and universities can decide whether to ban concealed guns on their campuses.

Currently, guns are banned in dorms and at ticketed events such as football games and concerts on public Colorado campuses.

New research

For the study, a team of researchers sent out 49-item questionnaires to 900 college and university presidents throughout the country.

James Price, the study's lead author, said it's the last of a three-part series on the perception of concealed weapons among university constituents, including students and faculty.

He said because the issue of concealed weapons on college campuses has been discussed in many state legislatures lately, his team wanted to provide quantitative data to demonstrate the way people most affected by the potential policies feel about concealed guns.

In past research, the team found that 78 percent of students and 94 percent of faculty at midwestern universities did not support concealed weapons on campus.

"We decided that we really needed to study these areas and find out what's going on with colleges and universities as to whether they're supportive or not," Price said. "We need accurate scientific information. Why should we have other people telling us what we should be doing in relation to the presence of deadly weapons if everybody didn't want to have them on campus?"

In the study of presidents, researchers found that that 76 percent of respondents were male, 87 percent were white, 52 percent were between the ages of 60 and 69 and 79 percent did not own a firearm.

Few presidents, 5 percent, had a valid concealed carry permit at the time of the survey.

Many presidents, 89 percent, reported that students would feel unsafe if faculty, students and visitors carried concealed handguns on campus.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at 303-473-1106 or kutas@dailycamera.com