College Board amends policy allowing weapons on campuses

College Board amends policy allowing weapons on campuses
The University of Southern Mississippi's Police Department earned a continuation of national accreditation for the next four years. (Photo source: WDAM)

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning changed its policy on weapons on campus during a Thursday meeting.

The amendments closely mirror the current state law over guns on the campuses of Mississippi's eight public universities.

The revised firearms policy, 1106 allows people with enhanced carry permits to carry registered weapons in public spaces on campuses.

"It does require people who are going to be allowed to carry on campus to go through a training session, which gives me a little more comfort level that they have the knowledge on how to manage and handle, and also how to protect that weapon in the event they decide they may have to use it," University of Southern Mississippi Police Chief Bob Hopkins said.

The policy reads:

"The board recognizes that the possession of pistols, firearms or other weapons on any of its institutional premises or at its institutions or student functions off-campus by persons other than duly authorized law enforcement officials, institutional security officials, other authorized persons and the institutional approved programs creates an unreasonable and unwarranted risk of injury or death to its institutions' employees, students, visitors and guests and further creates an unreasonable and unwarranted risk of damage to properties of the institutions, employees, students, visitors, guests and properties of others."

"It has been revised to more mirror the state law regarding the new carry-conceal policy that the legislature passed a couple of years ago," Hopkins said.

One of the challenges for universities is to designate what is a public space and what is not.

"The university will put together a broad committee of members of the university community to identify what could be public and what could be un-public," Hopkins said.

Hopkins said there will also be a campus-wide implementation plan so everyone is aware of the specifics regarding the requirements of the updated and changed policy.

"This law has been in effect for probably over two years, and although we have had some issues in regards to people on campus carrying concealed, even following the original policy, the officers were able to gain the attention that people understood that we were following a policy that was in effect and has not been much of an issue," Hopkins said.

Hopkins added the university wants to make the move and transition happen all at once, not part here and part there, when it comes to deciding what is public and private.

No date has been set for a meeting that will decide public or private places on campus, but university officials said it will be soon.