Guns on Campus

December 7, 1980

The OAH does not believe, and has seen no clear evidence to suggest, that guns on campus improve public safety or promote academic freedom.  On the contrary, guns on campus seem more likely to pose a tangible threat to public safety in the form of acquaintance murders or student suicides, especially given the growing data on depression and anxiety.  Guns on campus may also pose an intangible threat to academic freedom in the form of self-censorship in the classroom and on matters of scholarly or public interest. 


Nevertheless, the variety and complexity of state laws and institutional policies make it impossible for the OAH to endorse a general policy at this time.  Instead, the OAH recommends that all members:

  • Learn about their institution’s policies about guns on campus;
  • Inform themselves about state law regarding gun ownership and possession;
  • Consult the OAH website about possible policies and practices regarding guns on campus;
  • Raise the issue of guns on campus in appropriate forums to build awareness and consensus, if desired.

Laws Related to “Campus Carry”” When, Where and By Whom May Guns be Carried at IHEs?

Laws and jurisprudence related to guns on college and university campuses are largely determined at the state level. All states prohibit the carrying of firearms in specified sensitive locations. Many states list institutions of higher education as prohibited sensitive locations. However:

  • The organizations below provide state-by-state information which vary widely about campus carry laws and regulations (some sites are updated more recently than others)
  • Policies may also vary within states based on a number of factors
    • public vs private institutions
      (private institutions are more able than public institutions to set policy at the campus level)
    • outside vs inside spaces
      (for example, parking lots or sporting events vs classrooms or dormitories)
    • open vs concealed carry
      (open carry means the firearm is wholly or partially visible; concealed carry means the firearm is not visible; campus carry policies generally focus on concealed carry)
    • permit vs permitless carry
      (largely determined by state or local laws regarding license or permit to carry requirements)