This semester, some members of the ETSU community will be permitted to carry guns on campus.
Legislation recently passed by Gov. Bill Haslam permits full-time faculty and staff with handgun carry permits to carry concealed guns at Tennessee higher education institutions.
ETSU Chief of Public Safety Jack Cotrel said that 35 individuals have registered to carry on ETSU’s campus so far.
“I don’t think that’s a huge number,” Cotrel said. “We’ll see how the numbers look at the end of this month; if there’s a surge in registration, that should help us forecast for the future.”
There are limitations placed on faculty and staff who wish to carry guns on campus. Individuals who wish to carry on campus must fill out a notification form and turn it in to the Department of Public Safety.
Guns are not permitted at University School, ETSU’s VA campus, the CPA, ETSU childcare facilities and all healthcare facilities operated by ETSU.
Furthermore, guns are prohibited at disciplinary hearings, tenure hearings and ETSU-sponsored activities held in stadiums, gymnasiums or auditoriums.
These policies and others were instituted by an Ad Hoc Guns on Campus Committee appointed by ETSU President Brian Noland.
“A committee was formed to implement the new state law on campus by July 1, 2016,” said Jeff Howard, Dean of Students. “The committee has completed that work.”
The guns on campus law was passed in early May and was put in effect in early July, meaning that university officials were required to implement the provisions of the legislation in a tight time frame.
“The governor allowed the bill to become law without his signature,” Howard said. “This occurred around the first of May 2016, leaving just two months for implementation. For comparison, Tennessee’s wine in grocery store law went into effect over a two-year time period.”
Part of this objective entailed developing specific ETSU policies for the new law. Howard said that the committee created a website in order to inform ETSU faculty, staff and students about the details of the legislation and what it means for the university.
The website can be found at https://www.etsu.edu/dps/gun-policy/. Intent to carry notification forms are also located on the site.
“I strongly recommend that people become very familiar with the information on that website, particularly anyone who is interested in taking advantage of the liberties that this law provides,” Cotrel said.
“There are many caveats to carrying, which are explained in detail in the ETSU policy and on the website,” Howard said. “Everyone should be informed of their rights and responsibilities.”
Cotrel said that there will be no training provided to individuals who wish to carry for liability reasons.
“There are some do’s and don’ts that are pretty much common sense, and a lot of that is covered in concealed-carry training,” Cotrel said.
Cotrel said that he is unsure how the new legislation will alter the overall atmosphere of campus.
“Only time will tell,” Cotrel said. “Hopefully, the people who have opted in are responsible and will use good judgment.”
Cotrel said that the new policy presents new challenges for everyone.
“I would recommend that everyone give it time and see how things progress,” Cotrel said. “To use a worn-out phrase, it’s going to be a work in progress. We’re all going to be on a learning curve.”