Bearing Arms

Despite the recognizable danger associated with students keeping guns on campus, University Police nationwide continue to practice the policy of allowing students to bring their firearms to college despite the continuing trend among colleges to crackdown on the practice.

While it is still illegal to carry any firearms on the grounds of campus, students are still able to leave them in the hands of University Police and check them out for hunting trips. While handguns are strictly forbidden, hunting firearms are accepted for storage.

When a student wants to hunt or target shoot, they are given the option to store their guns on campus in the University Police office, but only for a short amount of time. Students are not able to keep their firearms there year-round.

"We do not permanently store the guns here," Lt. Taylor noted, who mentioned that usually only about a half-dozen students store their guns with U.P. per semester.

State Law Article 265 prohibits the possession of firearms on school grounds, Investigator Dan May of U.P. said.

"In order to recognize that students have legitimate uses for rifles and shotguns for sporting use the system was developed years ago," he said.

In order to keep a weapon on campus, students must bring it to U.P. There, they will fill out a registration card and will be given a receipt, that they are to keep with them. The weapon will be tagged with the same registration number. Currently, 20 or less students have registered weapons with U.P., May said.

Students must sign the registration card when they take out and return their weapon, May said. There is no set time limit when students take out their weapons.

While May said that they’ve "never had a problem" with students taking out weapons for illegal purposes, he notes that there is nothing stopping them from doing so. They have, however; made arrests in the past for students being caught with possession of the firearms.

"It is very rare that we come across handguns," May said.

While other firearm regulations among other SUNY schools mirror Oswego State’s, other colleges in Central New York take a more strict stance against guns on campus.
On the campus of Syracuse University, absolutely "no guns are allowed on campus" Syracuse Public Safety Deputy Drew Buske said, even for hunting and target shooting purposes.

At Ithaca College, a restriction on firearms and ammunition on campus is also strictly enforced but the campus does not impose a complete ban.

Ithaca’s policies are very similar to the SUNY’s. Firearms and ammunition may be stored at the college police’s office, but permission to sign out their weapons must be made in advance. Even if a student wants to bring a rifle in for a class project to demonstrate the breakdown of the object, that has to be cleared by the college president.

"The only person allowed to carry weapons on campus is our officers," Dave Maley, a spokesman for Ithaca said.

The college’s also share similar policies regarding the use of paintball guns.

"University police does store them the same amount of time for hunting rifles, but they cannot be kept in resident halls or vehicles on campus," Lt. Taylor said.

As expected, student opinions of the matter remain mixed.

"I think it promotes violence," senior public relations major Thomas Giardonello said. "I don’t understand why anyone our age would need a gun."

"I don’t feel that the university should defer or infringe upon our rights in the Constitution, just because we’re students," sophomore art major Adriana Kaible said.

"I feel they would do the best that they can in a situation given their resources," says Oswego State freshman Mary Butwin said.

After the Virginia Tech shooting that left over 30 people dead in its wake, campus police across the nation have starting a more comprehensive training regimen. While the rash of school shootings over the past decade have not swayed the policies regarding the storage of firearms on campus, they have helped officers prepare for that worst case scenario.

"Every campus has been through more training," Lt. Taylor said, "but there is that fine line of distinguishing."