Gun in glove box legal on university, college campus


Reporter - Todd Faulkner
Photojournalist - Chad Darnall

PADUCAH — You might find more than just students on college campuses.  You could soon find guns.

Justices at the state's highest level in Kentucky say you, or the person next to you, can have a weapon on a university campus. 
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday that anyone on a college or university campus in Kentucky can have a gun but must keep it in the vehicle.
The decision comes after a 2009 case involving a graduate student and technician at the University of Kentucky.  The student lost his job after campus police found a semi-automatic pistol in his car.  The student sued the university over the firing.  After years of legal battles, the high court ruled people can keep guns in their car's glove compartment.
You don't have to look too far on West Kentucky Community and Technical College's campus before seeing a sign reminding people weapons are not allowed on campus. 
However, the court's ruling now means people can keep guns in their vehicle. 
WKCTC Student Drew Walker agrees with the court's ruling. 
"It's kind of a scary time for people and I think people would feel more comfortable if they had a weapon," Walker said.  
And WKCTC Student Trent Parks agrees. 
"I don't think you shouldn't be able to walk around campus with it.  But I think you should be able to have it in your vehicle," Parks said.  "I think you should be able to have a gun, just like, keep your bullets away from you glove box, something like that." 
However, WKCTC Student Katie Granstaff isn't so sure about the court's decision.  
"As long as they're not pulling it out on campus and saying, 'Oh, look what I've got' then I'm, I guess, for it," Granstaff said.  "But at the same time there are so many people you don't know what's going through their mind at the time, what people have said that made them angry." 
WKCTC's Campus Security Director said attorneys are reviewing the ruling to decide how the decision will impact the school's weapon policy. 
Other Kentucky universities in our area are reacting to Thursday's ruling. 
A statement from Mid-Content University: Mid-Continent University does have policies that prohibit both students and employees from possessing firearms on university property, including in automobiles.  The policies are to ensure the safety of the university community and not to deny anyone of any constitutional or legal rights.
The Supreme Court ruling refers to rights of those that have permits to carry concealed weapons and those who do not.  It also notes a potential conflict with another law that grants colleges and universities the right to control weapons on their property. Two of the justices discussed that conflict at length in a separate opinion. It isn't clear whether the University of Kentucky will appeal the ruling to the federal courts, so the decision may not be final.
Obviously Mid-Continent administrators and attorneys have not had a chance to review the 20-page Supreme Court ruling. As soon as we have clarity on the effect of the ruling on private nonprofit universities such as Mid-Continent, we'll make adjustments to our policies and procedures if necessary. Continuing to operate a safe learning and teaching environment will continue to be our top goal. 
A statement from Murray State University: The ultimate goal for all of us is to create an atmosphere where our students are safe. We devote resources to make sure students can learn in an environment where they are not threatened. Concealed weapon permits are a reality for us along with this new ruling but, that does not change the efforts and constant attention we invest in a safe campus culture. 
Related Associated Press story: LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that guns and other deadly weapons may be stored in a car's glove compartment while on a college campus in the state.
The high court's ruling on Thursday came in the case of University of Kentucky graduate student and anesthesia technician Michael Mitchell, who lost his job in 2009 after campus police found a semi-automatic pistol in his car.
Mitchell, who has a concealed weapons permit, sued the university over the firing. Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine ruled in favor of the university. The high court reinstated Mitchell's suit after concluding that the law allows guns to be kept in a car's glove compartment.