ROCK SPRINGS — Current and prospective insurers for Western Wyoming Community College are becoming nervous over the fact, in light of recent school shootings, that there is no clearly spelled-out firearms ban on the Western campus.
A proposal for a campus-wide firearms ban was a prime subject of debate at the Western Board of Trustees monthly meeting on September 8.
Discussions with insurance representatives have included extensive conversations regarding their stated requests for such a ban, according to Burt Reynolds, Western’s Vice President for Administrative Services.
Reynolds went on to tell the board that Western’s present insurance carrier would eventually no longer cover the college if weapons are allowed on campus. Nor would it be simply a matter of finding another insurance carrier. “They all said the same thing,” Reynolds remarked in reference to other prospective insurers expressing the identical anti-firearms sentiment.
What other community colleges in Wyoming have done, are doing or not doing in regard to firearm bans appeared to be irrelevant.
“I don’t know how they get away with it,” Reynolds said, referring to other campuses’ lack of firearms bans.
Reynolds’ proposal for an explicit firearms ban at Western was listed on the agenda as “Board Policy 3910K” and was up for a first reading only, meaning no board action was necessary at this time.
Law Enforcement Conundrum
The board’s reaction to the proposed firearms ban was something less than unanimous enthusiasm.
Trustee George Eckman expressed strong concerns about the impact that a firearms ban could have on law enforcement officers and related agencies.
“Law enforcement personnel will come on campus with weapons. That’s the reality,” Eckman said. He added that not only police and sheriff’s department personnel, but also agents from Immigration; Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms; and similar organizations have and will come on campus with guns.
“Our policy doesn’t apply to them,” Reynolds responded. No anti-firearms regulation at Western would ever apply to law enforcement, Reynolds insisted.
Some board members were not as certain about that as Reynolds was. Trustee Kenneth Lorimer said that a firearms ban would put campus security personnel in a difficult situation, and moreover, that in order to ensure a safe campus environment, law enforcement personnel must sometimes come onto the Western campus to train.
Furthermore, according to Eckman, if there ever was a true emergency on the Western campus, with an armed intruder starting to shoot people, it would be absolutely necessary that law enforcement officers be armed, ready and able to cut the intruder down.
“I can’t understand why insurance companies wouldn’t understand that,” Eckman said.
Because the proposed campus firearms ban was only up for a first reading, Reynolds said he would continue his discussions with insurers and report back to the board.