Regents wisely decide campus gun policy

Last week, regents correctly decided one of the most contentious University issues in recent memory. By unanimously passing a campus-wide no guns policy, the regents sent a clear message that guns have no place in Minnesota’s institutions of higher learning.

Leading up to the regents’ decision, the issue of whether to allow guns at University events and facilities was clouded by hyperbole espoused by both pro and antigun lobbyists. To listen to the uproar, one would have been led to believe that the Second Amendment was to be repealed or that the government was sanctioning the expansion of violence and murder. To the contrary, nothing of great change will come out of the University’s new policy. The regents’ decision should come as no surprise considering other public facilities, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and seven other Big Ten schools already instituted similar policies. Furthermore, University students and employees were prohibited from having guns on campus by the student conduct code. The regents’ decision just extended an antigun policy to visitors, clarified definitions and punctuated the University’s antigun stance.

As the controversy surrounding the University’s gun policy fades into the background, the legislative consequences as a result of the University’s decision now pose more of a threat than backlash from gun-toting Minnesotans. At the same meeting regents made preliminary plans to request $160 million from the 2004 Legislature. It remains to be seen whether the University’s superceding of state law will be met with a political rebuff. Certainly, the regents should open all available channels of communication with the Legislature to consider future conflicts with state law and refine policies destined to create friction. However, concerning gun policy, the regents made the right and ultimately only decision they could have made.