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Sen. Rich Madaleno Jr. (File)

Legislation would ban guns on Md. public college campuses

ANNAPOLIS – A package of bills aimed at preventing gun violence includes a measure that would ban firearms from the campuses of the state’s public colleges and universities.

The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., D-Montgomery, includes exceptions for both on-duty and off-duty law enforcement officers and school security guards.

“None of us want our children to be exposed to gun violence when they go off to school, whether it’s walking to kindergarten or walking to graduate school,” Madaleno said at a news conference in Annapolis on Wednesday. “We need to dispel this Hollywood-driven myth that any of us can turn into James Bond and respond to some sort of incident. That’s not the reality.”

The reality, Madaleno said, is that guns on campuses will lead to increased violence.

Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, R-Baltimore and Harford counties, said bringing guns to campuses didn’t need to be prohibited altogether as long as campus security was informed.

“If you have somebody who is allowed to carry [a gun], and they’ve been issued a permit to carry for a reason, they should check with security at the school and let them know,” Jennings told reporters Wednesday.

Campus regulations at Maryland’s public colleges and universities generally forbid carrying or storing firearms, although there are some provisions to accommodate hunters. Frostburg State University, for example, allows guns and other potentially weapons to be registered and stored with the university police department while owners are on campus. Hunting is popular around the Western Maryland school, and the weapons stored with campus police are hunting weapons, including not only firearms but crossbows, said Liz Medcalf, the university’s director of news and media relations. Weapons are not allowed in dorms or academic buildings, she said.

The student codes of conduct at the University of Maryland, College Park and Morgan State University, for example, forbid the “unauthorized” use, possession or storage of weapons. The University of Baltimore prohibits possession of firearms or other weapons, but notes an exemption for “law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties” and others authorized by the university to possess or carry weapons.

Officials from the University System of Maryland did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon on the proposed legislation.

Dozens of states have considered legislation to allow guns to be brought on campus in recent years, with about one state per year adopting such a measure, said Suzanne Hultin, a policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures; last year, Texas became the most recent state to allow concealed carry on campuses. About a third as many states each year consider banning guns from campus, Hultin said.

In 2013, the year after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut reignited the debate over gun sales and safety, at least 19 states considered allowing concealed carry on college campuses. Two measures passed: Kansas approved concealed carry generally, while Arkansas allowed faculty to carry, according to NCSL.

Just five states introduced legislation banning concealed weapons on college campuses that year, and none of the bills passed, according to NCSL.

Daily Record Business Writer Bryan P. Sears contributed to this report.