Are Guns Allowed on College Campuses? In Many States, Yes.

Amid continued incidents of gun violence in the U.S., we rounded up a list of gun laws by state and how they apply to college campuses.

July 7, 2022 · Updated on July 22, 2022

Edited by Raneem Taleb-Agha
Are Guns Allowed on College Campuses? In Many States, Yes.
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  • Only about 16 states give colleges and universities the decision to ban or allow firearms individually.
  • Some states that prohibit firearms on university property have exceptions for weapons in vehicles or public areas.
  • Students can best understand their school’s specific gun laws by reaching out to campus safety offices.

Between the 2001-02 and 2015-16 academic years, there were 190 shooting incidents on college campuses in the U.S., according to research from the Citizens Crime Commission of NYC.

As gun violence continues to plague public areas across the country, you may be wondering about the gun laws on your own campus.

State by state, the banning or allowance of concealed carry weapons on and around college campuses varies greatly. Even states where firearms may be banned on university property may still have gun laws that permit licensed members of the public to carry weapons near or in designated areas of your school.

In at least 16 states — Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Washington, and West Virginia — the banning or allowing of firearms is decided by each institution individually.

To better understand where and when concealed carry weapons are banned or permitted, here is a roundup of gun laws on campus by state. For more information about the specific gun laws on your campus, be sure to contact the campus safety office.

Gun Laws on Campus by State

Alabama

Alabama is one of just a handful of states where the decision to ban or allow concealed carry weapons on campuses is made by each college or university individually.

In March, state legislatures eliminated the requirement for a person to acquire a concealed carry permit. Furthermore, effective Jan. 1, 2023, schools must allow students to keep firearms in their vehicles, subject to certain requirements.

Alaska

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in Alaska. It is up to individual institutions to regulate their use.

In Alaska, individuals over the age of 21 are allowed to carry firearms without a concealed carry permit.

Arizona

Arizona’s administrative code states that the unauthorized use, possession or storage of any weapon on public university campuses or at public university-sponsored activities is subject to disciplinary action.

However, Arizona is one of 21 states where individuals over the age of 21 are allowed to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.

Arkansas

In Arkansas, firearms are allowed at public institutions with a concealed carry permit only after the licensee has completed a training course approved by the Director of the Department of Arkansas State Police.

California

Under California’s Gun-Free School Zone Act, individuals are prohibited from possessing a firearm on college and university campuses or their associated buildings.

Colorado

Colorado law makes it a felony to possess firearms on the grounds of any public or private college or university, unless the individual is a CCW permit-holder.

Connecticut

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in Connecticut. It is up to individual institutions to regulate their use.

Delaware

Every college and university in Delaware must have written rules regarding the possession and use of firearms on campus by students, faculty and staff, visitors, and security personnel.

Florida

Firearms are not permitted on college and university campuses in Florida, except for guns in vehicles and ones carried for school programs.

Georgia

Georgia law states that individuals at public colleges and universities are permitted to possess firearms with written authorization. However, they may not carry in certain buildings, including dormitories and buildings used for athletic events.

Hawaii

In Hawaii, there are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses. It is up to individual institutions to regulate their use.

Idaho

Under Idaho law, individuals are allowed to possess firearms at public colleges and universities with a concealed carry permit. However, firearms are prohibited in dormitories or residence halls and entertainment spaces with signage notifying restrictions.

Illinois

Firearms are generally prohibited on college and university campuses in Illinois. Individuals who possess Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) cards can transport non-functioning, not immediately accessible, and/or unloaded firearms in vehicles.

Indiana

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in Indiana. It is up to individual institutions to regulate their use.

Iowa

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in Iowa. However, they are generally prohibited on public school campuses and considered acts of misconduct.

Kansas

Individuals over the age of 21 are allowed to carry a concealed firearm on public university grounds without the need for a permit. There are limited restrictions to account for “adequate security measures” like metal detectors, which would prohibit bringing a weapon into certain facilities.

Kentucky

It is up to individual institutions to regulate the use of firearms on campuses in Kentucky. State law will not “limit, restrict, or prohibit” this right of institutions.

Louisiana

In Louisiana, firearms are banned on college and university campuses, with exceptions for concealed handguns carried by campus police officers.

Maine

Under Maine law, colleges and universities have the power to individually regulate the possession of firearms on their campuses.

Maryland

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in Maryland. It is up to individual institutions to regulate their use.

Massachusetts

Firearms are generally prohibited on college and university campuses in Massachusetts, with exceptions for campus police officers and individuals who have written authorization from the institution’s board or officer in charge.

Michigan

It is up to individual institutions to regulate the use of firearms on campuses in Michigan, though even at institutions that permit concealed carry, firearms are banned from dormitories and classrooms.

Minnesota

It is up to individual institutions to regulate the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in Minnesota, with some exceptions. Schools may not prohibit the lawful possession of firearms in parking facilities or areas.

Mississippi

Firearms are permitted on public college and university campuses in Mississippi with an enhanced concealed carry permit. Private institutions have the right to ban firearms on campus.

Missouri

Firearms are generally prohibited on college and university campuses in Missouri, with the exception of inside private vehicles as long as they do not leave the vehicle and if an individual has written consent to possess a concealed carry weapon.

Montana

A Montana law previously prohibited university systems from regulating or restricting the possession of firearms on campuses by individuals eligible to legally possess one. The law was declared unconstitutional on November 30, 2021, but that decision was appealed. The Montana Board of Regents is now the sole arbiter of gun policy at the state’s public universities.

Nebraska

Firearms are generally prohibited on college and university campuses in Nebraska.

Nevada

The possession of firearms is prohibited on the property of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

New Hampshire

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in New Hampshire. It is up to individual institutions to regulate their use.

New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, individuals are generally prohibited from possessing firearms on college and university campuses, regardless of whether they are licensed holders or not.

New Mexico

Carrying a firearm is prohibited on university premises, with minor exceptions for university peace officers; security personnel; those who are engaged in army, navy, marine corps or air force reserve officer training corps programs or a state-authorized hunter safety training program; and any person conducting or participating in a university-approved program, class, or other activity involving the carrying of a firearm.

However, individuals over 19 years old may carry firearms in private vehicles on campuses for the purpose of lawful protection of property.

New York

Under state law, firearms are prohibited on college or university campuses in New York. Any individual who knowingly possesses one on school grounds is guilty of criminal possession.

North Carolina

Firearms are generally prohibited on college and university campuses in North Carolina, with limited exceptions.

North Dakota

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in North Dakota. However, state law does prohibit the possession of firearms at schools or school-sponsored events on school property, with limited exceptions. Otherwise, colleges and universities are seemingly able to regulate firearm use individually.

Ohio

Firearms are generally prohibited on college and university campuses in Ohio, with exceptions for handguns locked in vehicles and for individuals or classes of individuals who have written authorization from the institution’s board or officer in charge.

Oklahoma

Firearms are generally prohibited on college and university campuses in Oklahoma, with minor exceptions.

Oregon

Under Oregon Senate Bill 554, individuals with concealed carry permits are allowed to carry firearms at public colleges and universities. However, schools have the right to prohibit this.

Pennsylvania

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in Pennsylvania. It is up to individual institutions to regulate their use.

Rhode Island

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in Rhode Island. It is up to individual institutions to regulate their use.

South Carolina

Firearms are generally prohibited on college and university campuses in South Carolina, with minor exceptions.

South Dakota

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in South Dakota. It is up to individual institutions to regulate their use.

Tennessee

Firearms are generally prohibited on public college and university campuses in Tennessee, with minor exceptions for instructional or school-sanctioned ceremonial purposes and for non-student adults carrying firearms in private vehicles.

Texas

Under Texas law, colleges and universities are prohibited from banning licensed carriers from possessing, storing, or transporting firearms on campus grounds and in buildings.

As of 2021, individuals over the age of 21 who can legally possess a handgun are allowed to carry without a permit in the state of Texas.

Utah

Licensed carriers are allowed to carry concealed weapons on public campuses.

Vermont

Vermont prohibits individuals from knowingly possessing firearms in school buildings and vehicles. However, the law does not say whether this applies to colleges and universities.

Virginia

In Virginia, members of the general public who are licensed to carry are permitted to carry concealed weapons on open areas of public college campuses. However, students and employees at public colleges and universities may be restricted from carrying on campus if the institution prohibits it.

Washington

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in Washington. It is up to individual institutions to regulate their use.

West Virginia

There are no specific laws prohibiting the possession of firearms on college and university campuses in West Virginia. It is up to individual institutions to regulate their use.

Wisconsin

Public institutions in Wisconsin may not prohibit the possession of firearms in open areas on campus. However, individuals may be prohibited from carrying concealed weapons in buildings if notified.

Wyoming

Wyoming generally prohibits concealed carry firearms at college athletic events and in college or university facilities. Other areas of campuses, however, are open to concealed carry. Individuals who have obtained written consent to carry on campus from the institution’s security service may also do so.