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Following a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling that took place last spring, students, faculty and staff are allowed to keep concealed weapons in their vehicles, but are being advised to keep them hidden.
The ruling states that education institutions in Kentucky are in violation of the law if they do not allow students, faculty and staff to keep concealed weapons in the glove compartments of their vehicles. To prevent licensed weapons from being stored in private vehicles is contrary to the fundamental Constitutional right to bear arms, the opinion states.
Murray State Police Chief David DeVoss said some students and staff were under the impression that it was a requirement to keep a weapon in plain sight when it was left in a vehicle in University parking lots.
“With a weapon in plain sight, one runs the risk that the vehicle will be entered to steal both the weapon and other personal property,” DeVoss said. “It is most prudent to keep a weapon out of sight when parking a vehicle in University parking lots.”
For hunters, DeVoss recommended storing the weapon in a safe place off campus.
“If one must keep a weapon in his vehicle when parking on campus, it should be stored out of sight to prevent an unlawful entry,” DeVoss said.
Murray State Police officers will respond to any calls regarding a weapon on campus.
The Supreme Court ruling does give universities the right to prohibit weapons on all other entities of campus – a policy Murray State enacted years ago.
DeVoss indicated that there had been some initial local confusion following the policy ruling that guns in vehicles legally had to be visible – opposite of the actual ruling and official Murray State recommendation.
“Some people thought we were asking people to leave weapons in plain sight,” DeVoss said. “We do not suggest that because it can initiate criminal acts.”
Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said the University does not want students to get in trouble and there are lots of students who have guns for hunting or other reasons.
The policy statement regarding weapons states, “weapons and dangerous materials are prohibited on all property owned or controlled by Murray State University. This prohibition encompasses, but is not limited to, outdoor areas, classrooms, laboratories, residential colleges and other living facilities, office buildings, performance halls, and auditoria, museums, dining facilities and arenas, farms, parking lots and vehicles on property owned or controlled by Murray State.”
The University’s policy determines a weapon as anything that can be shot or is capable of producing death or serious physical injury. Knives, other than pocketknives, swords, nightsticks, karate sticks, death stars, artificial knuckles and bow and arrows are all considered weapons.
The policy statement does not prohibit the possession of a firearm, with lawful authority if it is located in and not removed from a private- or University-owned vehicle and is kept in an enclosed container, compartment, or storage space installed as original equipment in the vehicle.
Any student in violation of the policy is subject to disciplinary action, including expulsion from the University and other legal actions.
Policy decisions like these have encouraged some students to carry weapons for safety reasons.
Kimberlie Moore, sophomore from Hampton, Ky., said she plans on getting her concealed weapons permit when she turns the legal age of 21.
“I personally travel to school about 20 miles each way,” Moore said. “If I were to break down on the interstate or get stuck somewhere I can have protection with me. I know that guns are an issue but that’s just because people are uneducated about them.”
Story by Meghann Anderson, Assistant News Editor.