Michigan State University on Friday banned members of the public with concealed pistol licenses from bringing firearms to campus with the exception of those driving through the school's 5,300 acres.

The Board of Trustees approved 5-2 changing MSU's policy on firearms that forbids students and employees from possessing firearms on campus but included a clause that essentially allowed members of the public with concealed pistol licenses to be on the university's sprawling campus as long as they didn't enter a building.

That clause is now gone. The new policy only makes exceptions for people who are driving through campus with a concealed weapon. MSU's campus is located in parts of two cities and four townships, and its bordersare often traversed by many people en route to other destinations.

"This has been a long time coming," said Trustee Kelly Tebay, who introduced the change and thanked the MSU Students Against Gun Violence for bringing the issue to the board since 2019.

Voting against the change was board Chair Rema Vassar and Vice Chair Dan Kelly. Trustee Dennis Denno was absent.

"I want all Spartans who come to this campus to feel safe," said Vassar, but said that she was concerned about individuals having to admit to a felony under this change.

This law only applies to law abiding people, Kelly said. He said he has seen no evidence that change was needed, and expressed concern that at some point someone is going to be charged with a crime under this change.

"I am sensitive to the people who are uncomfortable that someone on campus may have a concealed weapon. But that is state law," Kelly said, adding that people should change the law.

"I don't believe passing this will have any impact on the safety of this campus," Kelly said.

Changing MSU's policy was not a response to the Feb. 13 fatal shooting that claimed the lives of three MSU students and critically injured five others, MSU officials said.

MSU advocacy groups against guns had been lobbying the board for years to change the clause, which some saw as a loophole.

MSU police and others previously have noted the vastness of MSU's campus and how difficult it would be to enforce such a ban: MSU's campus in Ingham County is approximately 5,300 contiguous acres with more than 57 lane miles of roadways regulated by 37 networked traffic lights. The university's borders fall into the cities of Lansing and East Lansing and the townships of Meridian, Lansing, Delhi and Alaiedon.

Board members told those advocates that they were awaiting on the outcome of a lawsuit related to the issue involving the University of Michigan. The state Court of Appeals upheld UM's campus gun ban in July though the lawyer for the plaintiff in the case said he planned to appeal the decision to the Michigan State Supreme Court and even the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

Michigan State's ordinance banning firearms was approved in 1964 but has now been amended six times. The clause of "except as permitted by state law regulating firearms," was added in 2009, spokesman Dan Olsen said.


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