Effort Underway to Allow Guns on U of M Campus

Updated: 03/25/2014 12:12 PM KSTP.com By: Kate Renner

After a number of crimes on and near the University of Minnesota campus, the university is adding more campus security cameras, better lighting and more police.

Meanwhile, a group of students now want to be able to carry guns on campus.

Minnesota is one of 22 states that allows permit holders to conceal and carry guns on campus, but then gives each college and university the right to ban weapons on campus. The U of M Board of Regents chose to ban all weapons on campus and at sporting events. But one group wants to change that.

A string of robberies on the U of M campus late last year escalated on Nov. 11, when the campus went into lockdown because of an attempted robbery at gunpoint, and the suspect got away. A month later, in December 2013, there was another armed robbery on campus.

U of M freshman William Preachuk believes things could have ended differently if he'd been able to pack heat. "I would believe that I have the right to defend myself; I have the right to protect others as well as myself only if the situation allows it," William Preachuk said.

Preachuk signed a petition Monday that will be sent to the Board of Regents asking to be allowed to conceal and carry on campus.

Susan Eckstine with College Republicans is a permit holder and trained in using a gun. "If I was able to carry a firearm here on campus I'd feel a lot safer to protect myself from a life-threatening situation," Eckstine said.

But other students say more firearms on campus would squash their sense of security.

"You're only creating more potential violence by adding more weapons than the other way around," sophomore Jennifer Lakritz said.

"I feel if you really are afraid for your protection then you should have police officers around instead," junior Kevin Jacob said.

The University of Minnesota Police Department is listening - having hired three new officers in recent months, bringing the total to 50.

According to the U of M Office of General Counsel, there are no plans to revisit the firearms policy adopted by the Board of Regents in 2003. They believe the policy is the best way to promote health, safety and welfare on campus.

In nearby Wisconsin, guns are allowed on all campuses, but campuses can post signs up at every entrance of every building banning guns inside buildings.

According to the group Armed Campus, all public and private schools in Wisconsin are currently posting those signs.