by Matt Gertz/Media Matters
In 2008, in the wake of mass shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) adopted model legislation proposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that would have allowed any concealed carry permit holder to bring guns on college campuses.
The model legislation not only expressly permitted the carrying of concealed handguns on college campuses, but banned colleges and universities from restricting such activity. At the time, Utah was the only state in the nation that either expressly permitted guns on campus or banned public institutions from making their own restrictions.
In recent days, the media has shined a spotlight on ALEC's efforts to help the NRA promote Florida's "Kill at Will" self-defense law across the country. The NRA, reportedly a "longtime funder" of ALEC, presented the shadowy group with "proposed model legislation based on" Florida's law in August 2005. That model bill was endorsed by ALEC and distributed to its network of conservative legislative members, and similar measures were subsequently passed in more than 20 states.
Similarly, in May 2008, ALEC's Criminal Justice Task Force "unanimously adopted a model "Campus Personal Protection Act," which the NRA says was "[b]rought forth" by their lobbying arm. The model bill was adopted by ALEC 30 days later with no objection from its Board of Directors.
The model bill contains sections to repeal state laws banning valid permit holders from carrying concealed handguns on campus, and further states:
Section 3. No governing body of a college or university or postsecondary vocational technical school shall have the authority to establish rules or regulations limiting or abridging the ability of a person issued a valid concealed handgun permit recognized by this state to lawfully carry a concealed handgun on its campus. However, governing bodies of educational institutions may establish rules or regulations relating to the storage of firearms in campus dormitories.
According to a November 2008 report from the American Associate of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), "17 states attempted major reforms to campus weapon laws in 2008"; many of those efforts predated ALEC's endorsement of model legislation. According to the advocacy group Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus, bills to increase access to firearms on college campuses were introduced "in at least 23 states" during the 2011 legislative session, passing in two.
AASCU "discourages the passage of new state legislation that would overturn or weaken concealed weapons bans on campus," stating that the "the safety and security of all members of the campus community must remain paramount." Likewise, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators says that there is "no credible evidence to suggest that the presence of students carrying concealed weapons would reduce violence on our college campuses" and that "concealed carry laws have the potential to dramatically increase violence on college and university campuses."