NSHE weapons possession policy sparks debate among higher education leaders
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Current Handbook rules challenged by officials, many find no fault
Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) vice chancellor of Legal Affairs Brooke Nielsen requested the Board of Regents approve an amendment to the board’s Handbook regarding possession of weapons on NSHE property during a meeting Friday, though some were reluctant to vote in favor of the revision.
Nevada law prohibits the possession of dangerous weapons on private and public campuses, but a statute gives university presidents the authority to provide written permission for individuals to carry or possess a weapon.
Nielsen said that there should be an organizational process for presidents who receive requests for permission. These requests would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with the personal safety, ability and background of the individual taken into consideration.
Nielsen advised that the Nevada statute be implemented as NSHE procedure to avoid challenges to presidents’ decisions, for example, to dispel the notion that presidents might arbitrarily deny all requests without any examination.
Regent Ron Knecht suggested that a concealed weapon permit from a county Sheriff could be a criterion for this exception, to be used in place of proof of proficiency with a specific weapon, but regents Mark Alden and Michael Wixom, along with chancellor Dan Klaich, advised against this.
Nielsen said that in several states anyone in possession of a concealed weapons permit may carry their weapon on campus, with or without permission from the institution’s president.
“Telling me that certain campuses do X,Y,Z doesn’t add a lot to the proposal,” Knecht said. “This is a very substantial, and in my mind unnecessary burden on the applicant.”
Many regents expressed concerns about the dangers of allowing anyone to carry weapons on campus, and were uncomfortable with the notion of allowing exceptions, even if they are allowed under Nevada law.
“I’m all for the NRA, and the second amendment and all of that.” said regent Mark Alden. “I think guns are fine for some things, but they don’t belong in our facilities.”
A list of individuals who are allowed to carry weapons on campus would not be confidential, and Knecht was concerned that these individuals might be in danger because of it.
The amendment was approved.