I&A Research Teams are groups of dedicated volunteers who monitor breaking news and delve into ongoing topics affecting archives and the archival profession. Under the leadership of the I&A Steering Committee, the Research Teams compile their findings into Research Posts for the I&A blog. Each Research Post offers a summary and coverage of an issue. This Research Post comes from On-Call Research Team #1, which looks into real-time issues affecting archivists and archives.
Please be aware that the sources cited have not been vetted and do not indicate an official stance of SAA or the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable.
Proposed and already enacted concealed carry legislation in numerous states has spurred questions regarding policies for libraries, archives, and museums. What can – and cannot – individual institutions and organizations do regarding patrons and guns given their locally applicable bills? Concerns vary not just by state and institution type, but even by possible need for concealed weapons. For example, Wyoming’s need for weapons in primary and secondary schools may be affected by the potential for grizzly bears nearby, a suggestion posed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
On American college campuses, various state rules apply to concealed carry. Four states allow guns on campuses, six states allow for guns on campus in restricted areas, 10 states allow campuses to choose, 10 states allow storage of weapons in vehicles, and 20 states prohibit guns on all campuses. Employment status can be a factor, as well. In Tennessee, although students can only store weapons in vehicles, faculty and staff are allowed concealed carry. While these variations only apply to college campuses, laws can be more convoluted with other institutions: public or federal buildings and state parks, for example. Since libraries, archives, and museums can be within public, state, corporate, federal, or college entities, we will all be affected by concealed carry laws differently.
Proponents for concealed carry argue that states that allow it on campuses, provide improved safety and that threats to the learning environment are false. These proponents argue instead that active shooter incidents such as the Virginia Tech massacre may have ended more quickly and safely with an armed student body on hand.
People working in libraries, archives, and museums voice concerns that guns can create more violence rather than less, but they are also concerned that concealed carry can limit free speech and introduces complicated security issues. Faculty and students may not safe practicing academic freedom under the new rules. In one instance in Utah, a feminist speaker backed out of a campus event after threats were made on her life and the Utah State University could not provide increased support for her safety. Concealed carry proponents believe that such situations can be mitigated and that the university could have provided better security, albeit at increased cost and intrusiveness of individual searches.
Another, more common example of security complications can be found in archives and manuscript repositories. They typically have patrons place bulky materials, such as jackets and bags, in lockers, but having patrons remove guns can violate state laws and possibly be illegal.
Many states have been in the news for legislation regarding concealed weapons on college campuses, which covers Oregon, Minnesota, Michigan, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Texas. At the University of Texas at Austin, guns are restricted in its Tower area, due to the 1966 sniper attacks by Charles Whitman. Often, libraries are not included as restricted areas on college campuses. Some areas can be negotiated, but if a state wholly allows for concealed carry, then libraries and archives cannot create rules or policies that negate the relevant legislation. Virginia’s Richmond Public Library found this out when they posted that guns were prohibited and the Virginia’s Citizens Defense League (rightly) disagreed. After changing the rule to read that it was prohibited “except as permitted by the law,” the League still determined the language was not acceptable and protested.
Overall, it is the burden of each library, archives, and museum to determine what policies they are allowed to enact based on the laws and regulations of their state and the rules within their affiliated institutions. This poses issues for creating standards and for enacting and managing policies effectively. After all, your institution may need protection from a grizzly.
A bibliography is provided below. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and some articles may require a subscription.
- Michael Kelly, “No Guns in the Library: Curbing the Second Amendment in the Stacks.” Library Journal (January 9, 2013), 8. Accessed on January 3, 2017. http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/01/opinion/editorial/no-guns-in-the-library-curbing-the-second-amendment-in-the-stacks-editorial/#_
- Joshua Gillin, “Oregon College Shooting was on a Gun-Free Campus, Lawmakers Say.” Tampa Bay Times, (November 24, 2015) Accessed on January 3, 2017. http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2015/nov/24/greg-steube/oregon-college-shooting-was-gun-free-campus-lawmak/
- Katherine Mangan, “Campus-carry rules vary, depending on where guns are.” Chronicle of Higher Education, (April 8, 2016): p A6. Academic OneFile. Accessed January 5, 2017. go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=tel_a_ttul&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CA450800253&it=r&asid=691fa62f0ce974ce4f9c62e0b09e3edb
- Monica Fuglei, “Why Concealed Carry Laws Can Affect School Field Trips.” Concordia University Education Blog. Accessed December 30, 2016. http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/news/concealed-carry-field-trips/.
- Mary Beth Chappell Lyles, “The Open Carry Library: Navigating gun policies in the age of open carry laws and mass shootings.” AALL Spectrum 19, no. 4, 2015 February. Accessed December 30, 2016. http://www.aallnet.org/mm/Publications/spectrum/Archives/Vol-19/No-4/open-carry.pdf
- Carrie O’Maley Voliva, “Can I Bring My Gun to the Library.” Public Libraries. 2015 July 29. Accessed on January 23, 2017. http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2015/07/can-i-bring-my-gun-to-the-library/
- Dave Philipps, “Grappling With Guns on Campus.” The New York Times, 2016 August 28, p A16. Accessed January 2, 2017.
- “University of Texas at Austin to allow students to carry handguns on campus,” CNN, 2016 Feb 18. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/18/politics/university-of-texas-austin-students-guns-classrooms/
- “UT Austin’s Campus Carry Policies,” https://campuscarry.utexas.edu/
- Elahe Izadi, “Faculty can carry handguns on public college campuses under controversial new Tennessee law.” Washington Post, 2016 May 2. Accessed January 25, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/05/02/faculty-can-carry-handguns-on-public-college-campuses-under-controversial-new-tennessee-law/
- David Kopel, “Guns on University Campuses: The Colorado Experience.” Washington Post, 2015 April 20. Accessed January 25, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/04/20/guns-on-university-campuses-the-colorado-experience/
- Annale Renneker, “Packing More than Just a Backpack.” Journal of Law and
Education, vol. 44, no. 2 (Spring 2015): 273-282.
- Jennifer Sinor, “Guns on Campus Have Already Curtailed Free Speech.”
Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 61, no. 10., 2014 October 27. Accessed January 3, 2017. http://www.chronicle.com/article/Guns-on-Campus-Have-Already/149663
- “Your Guide To Idaho’s Guns On Campus Debate.” Boise State Public Radio. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://boisestatepublicradio.org/topic/your-guide-idahos-guns-campus-debate
- “Weapons on Campus: Frequently Asked Questions.” Idaho State University. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://www2.isu.edu/pubsafe/policies/ConcealedWeaponsFAQ.pdf
Resources for understanding and tracking legislation
- Armed Campuses site, http://www.armedcampuses.org/ features an interactive map where one can read up on individual states’ legislation
- Andy Pelosi and John Johnson, “The Important Work of Keeping Guns Off Campus.” American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Public Purpose. Accessed January 23, 2017. (PDF) http://www.aascu.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=8726
- Diana Gleason, “2015 Update: Can I Bring My Gun? A Fifty State Survey of Firearm Laws Impacting Policies Prohibiting Handguns in Public Libraries.” SSRN. 2015 May 13. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://ssrn.com/abstract=2605937
- “Education Bill Tracking Database.” National Conference of State Legislatures http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/education-bill-tracking-database.aspx Search under Post-Secondary — Campus Safety. Includes legislation that was not adopted.
- “Guns on Campus: Resources.” National Conference of State Legislatures. Accessed January 25, 2017. http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/guns-on-campus-resources.aspx Includes resources that are pro- and con- concealed carry weapons on campus
- Students for Concealed Carry. Accessed January 23, 2017. http://concealedcampus.org/