- Associated Press - Monday, January 20, 2014

LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) - Whether the parameters of firearms rights in Wyoming should extend to the University of Wyoming campus could be an issue of contention.

According to state statute, adults who may legally own firearms in Wyoming may also carry concealed firearms without a permit. Some examples of people not legally allowed to have firearms are convicted felons or those adjudicated to possibly be a threat to themselves or others because of mental illness.

However, Wyoming statue allows for some entities or institutions - such as UW - to restrict or disallow firearms on their property. Generally, UW policy forbids anybody other than sworn law enforcement officers to possess or carry firearms on campus, either openly or concealed.

“It’s not going to be a blanket ‘no,’” UW Police Department Chief Mike Samp said. “It (concealed carry on campus) is something we’re going to consider on a case-by-case basis.”

UW student Ted Schueler said he’s unsuccessfully applied to conceal carry on campus since he began studying kinesiology, health and social studies in 2010. He said he’s a U.S. Army combat veteran who served as a sniper while deployed in Iraq.

He told the Laramie Boomerang (http://bit.ly/1deQNXt ) that he holds a concealed carry permit, and sometimes has a handgun on his person when he’s not on campus. As he sees it, UW policy violates his basic right to self-defense.

“For me, the biggest thing is that it (UW) is essentially a gun-free zone. So if somebody brings a gun on campus with bad intentions, there will be nobody to stop them, other than police officers.”

Samp said he can’t comment about the specifics or give the identity of any person involved in any particular case. He said that during his tenure, UW has allowed only one person to carry a concealed firearm on campus.

Exceptions hinge first upon a person being legally able to possess a firearm and having had adequate training, Samp said.

More importantly, the person would have to demonstrate a clear and present threat to their safety, such as being stalked, that would justify being armed, he said.

Otherwise, UW forbidding firearms on campus demonstrates good policy, Samp said.

“In an educational environment, the presence of weapons could be disruptive not only to students, but to faculty and staff as well,” he said.

UW police and local law enforcement agencies train yearly to respond to an “active shooter” scenario on campus, such as the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, Samp said.

Schueler said he received similar training in the military, and also had to pass background checks to get his concealed carry permit.

“I do understand where he (Samp) is coming from. Just allowing everybody to carry a firearm on campus could easily get out of hand,” he said.

Schueler said he was contacted by an organization called Wyoming Students for Concealed Carry, but isn’t a member of that group.

Group spokesman Andrew Hansen, who is studying chemical engineering at UW, said Wyoming Students for Concealed Carry and its national parent organization don’t favor wide-open gun possession on campus. Instead, the group contends that concealed carry rights should be extended to adult students, at least age 21, who would otherwise qualify.

“We’re advocates for individuals who are legally able to carry elsewhere to be able to legally carry here (at UW),” he said. “We see that essentially a line has been drawn that will not deter criminals, but will deter law-abiding citizens from defending themselves.”

Hansen said concealed carry rights have been extended on some campuses in other states, with no apparent ill effects, such as a jump in the number of gun-related crimes there.

“Two of our neighboring states have that (concealed carry on campus) in place, and it’s been a non-issue there,” he said.


Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com

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