Not all firearm policies are equal


Jamieson Greenough

I am an avid supporter of Second Amendment rights. I am also a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) holder. While this license does not make me a law enforcement officer, I regularly enjoy a sense of security from being able to protect myself.

This sense of security is diminished on campus where I am not allowed to even leave a firearm in my vehicle.

While I would be well within my legal rights to do so, the possibility of losing my education is not worth the risk.

To be clear: Northern Michigan University can, and has, set in place policies regulating behavior on its property. Obviously, these policies must not contradict the law, but they can be more strict than either local, state or federal laws.

However, breaking a university policy is in no way legally actionable if no state or federal law was broken. Disciplinary action may be taken by the university such as the suspension, expulsion or termination of a student, but these are not always the result of a crime.

Criminal prosecution will always be handled by Marquette County, however students who commit criminal acts on university property are subject to discipline from both the school, and the legal system.
All that being said, the dissonance between university policy and state law can be staggering.

While Lake State University has a weapons policy that is almost identical to NMU’s, which states that weapons of any kind must be registered and stored at Public Safety, Michigan Tech’s policy more closely mirrors local and state law.

According to MTU’s Board of Trustees Policies Manual, if a student has properly registered a weapon with Public Safety, is carrying the proper paperwork to prove so and the weapon is unloaded, it may be possessed by the student on university property that is not a building (i.e. dorm, classroom).

But what does the law say?

Firearms—any weapon that fires a projectile by the burning of gunpowder—are required by the state of Michigan to be completely unloaded and stored in the trunk of a vehicle separate from the ammunition. You are also not permitted to carry or transport a firearm in an area populated by game animals without the proper licences.

If you are also the holder of a CPL, the firearm may be loaded and can be stored anywhere in the vehicle. CPL holders must also keep a blood alcohol level below .02 and are legally obligated to disclose to any law enforcement officer that they are in possession of a firearm immediately upon being stop.

Here is where state law clashes with university policy: CPL holders are also legally permitted to conceal a pistol on their person or in a vehicle on the property of a university with the exception of dormitories and classrooms.

This is obviously in direct contradiction to not only NMU policy, but the policy of all Upper Peninsula universities.

Why is the law not good enough? Would the extra precautions set in place by these universities deter or stop an active shooter situation?

Myself and many others believe the answer is no. People intent on using a firearm for violence do not concern themselves with policies, let alone laws.

Sometimes when danger is imminent, it is too late to call 911. A gun-free zone will not stop a criminal from having a gun in that area. If anything, it lets that criminal know that nobody else in that area has the means to oppose them.

The idea of an active shooter, especially on a college campus, should terrify anyone. Unfortunately in the world we live, it is a possibility that is becoming less and less extreme.

If any resistance from an armed civilian could save even one life, allowing that civilian their right to bear arms is worth it.