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April 4, 2014

Campus sees effects of new gun law

The University posted signs on doors across campus this week which state that firearms are not allowed on University property, in compliance with Illinois’s recently passed concealed carry legislation. However, those with a concealed carry permit will be allowed to carry firearms just outside campus boundaries as a consequence of the new law.

In December 2012, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals declared Illinois’s law banning the carrying of guns in public unconstitutional. The Court required the Illinois legislature to write a law allowing firearms to be carried in public, which was passed in July 2013. The law went into effect in January 2014.

The law still bans the carrying of firearms on university campuses and requires all universities to post signs on the doors to every campus building informing residents that guns are not allowed on campus. UChicago posted the signs as required by law on Tuesday.

To reduce the shock value of the new signs, administrators posted no-smoking signs next to the no-guns signs, computational and applied mathematics professor Todd Dupont said. “The no-smoking sign I don’t think is shocking to anybody, so maybe it makes people feel a little less like we’re in the middle of a war zone,” he said. Dupont said he was told this at a meeting he attended in which University officials talked about their response to the law.

The concealed carry law prohibits the carrying of guns in “any building, classroom, laboratory…and any real property, including parking areas, sidewalks, and common areas under the control of a public or private community college, college or university.” However, this does not include public sidewalks adjacent to campus, University spokesperson Jeremy Manier said. This would mean that firearms could be carried on the sidewalk of 55th Street, for example. Manier also pointed out that the campus is not contiguous.

The University appointed a committee comprised of “representatives from Legal, Facilities, UCPD, the Provost’s Office, Finance and Administration, and Communications” to help implement the law, Manier said.

Dupont said that he does not expect the new law to have a large effect on safety at the University one way or the other. “I feel like the campus is pretty safe because we have a very large, well-armed police force and concealed carry might affect that in some ways, but I’m not really expecting it to change things very much,” he said.

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