Gun on Campus – Structured Information for Complex Political Issues

October 7, 2013 by Crescerance

The issue of allowing students with valid gun permits to keep and carry their guns on campus is getting an increasing amount of attention in the media. The pro groups say that a student’s room is his/her home away from home and that he/she should be allowed to keep a gun to protect himself/herself. The con groups counter that permitting guns on campus likely result in more violence, not less.

For various political reasons, this is an issue that is being addressed at the state level. While there is much talk about the issue in Washington, there is not likely to be any Federal legislation addressing it in the near term. As you would expect the political leaders in various states have taken different approaches to addressing the issue and the national groups on both sides are reviewing these approaches to determine which ones might be proposed in other states.

If you have an interest in this issue, you will likely find it difficult to get detailed information on how the issue is being addressed in your state and how it may apply to a specific college or university. In some states, private and public institutions are treated differently. Your search is complicated by the fact that there are ongoing changes resulting from new policies, regulations, court decisions and laws.

At Capitol Impact, we have developed an Issues Management System for collecting, organizing and maintaining information on these types of complex political issues. The Guns on Campus site has been developed to illustrate how the system works. The system includes the following features. Each is briefly discussed in the context of the Guns on Campus issue.

  • Existing Laws – This section is where one would identify the current laws in each of the fifty states. You may include a link to the specific laws, a link to the state law site and links to analysis of the state’s laws by other organizations. In the case of Guns on Campus there are links to the NRA, the ArmedCampuses and Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence state sites.
  • Court Cases – The laws are interpreted by the courts. The Pro groups are increasingly looking to the courts to interpret existing laws to support their position. In Colorado, the court ruled that the colleges and universities did not have the authority to issue regulations on possession of guns.
  • Proposed Legislation – During each legislative session an increasing number of bills are introduced on gun related issues. While many do not initially address the guns on campus issue, in most cases it would be considered germane and the bill could be amended to include language on it.
  • Public Officials – The legislators in each state propose and pass new laws. The governor either signs or vetos them and then the governor’s appointees implement them. The site identifies these officials in each of the fifty states and you can record their position on the issue can be recorded.
  • Key People – While there may be hundreds or thousands or people affected by an issue, there is normally a relatively small number of people who will make the decision as to what should be proposed and what comprises to accept. The system permit you to identify these people and explain why they are important. There people including the chairs of the committees to which legislation will be assigned and the lobbyists for the organizations involved.
  • Key Organization – Just as it is important to know the key people involved, it is important to know the key organizations involved. In the case of guns on campus, the state governing boards of the public universities and colleges are key players. In most states there are one or more organizations of gun owners.
  • Affected Organizations – In the case of guns on campus, the affected organizations are the public and private post secondary schools in each state. The Guns on Campus site includes these organizations for each state and provides presenting information on how each organization is address the issue.
  • Reference Documents – this section of the site is where yu would place  news stories, position papers and other documents that discuss the issue. Some are written from a national point of view while other focus on a specific state.
  • Recent Events – this section of the site identifies recent events that impact the issue. A new law is passed and signed or vetoed by the governor. A court case is decided. A college issues a new policy. A new study is released.
  • State Summary – the state summary has two elements. The section open with a fifty state overview of the key issues. When you select a state, you can provide a summary of the existing situation in that state and tabs that provides the related information in each of the sections discussed above. This permits you to quickly review all available information for a specific state.
  • Submission of Suggested Additions – It is difficult for an individual or a small group of people to constantly review all the documents added that are added to the internet on a specific subject. This element of the site permits an interested party to login and suggest an addition to a specific element of the site. The individual managing the site reviews these suggestions and adds the ones that are appropriate.

We encourage you to visit the Guns on Campus to get a better understanding of how the Issue Management System works and explore how it might apply to your issue tracking needs. A site can be developed that addresses any specific needs and includes only those elements that are applicable to your needs, providing a receptacle for the intertwining elements that help to manage an issue.

For additional information please contact Andy Paul at or or Matt Polovich at