Of guns and dorm rooms


June 21, 2006, 05:15 PM
Imagine you were a college student, attending a research internship out of your state, but in a rather gun-friendly state. You like to go hiking and fishing and like to go on these trips armed with your trusty sidearm.

Let's say you were being housed in a quiet, minimally staffed and under-filled (because it's summer) dormitory of an apparantly rather gun-friendly campus.

Say these dormitories actually have firearm storage facilities in them for the students to use, but due to the season and some red tape these facilities are not available during the summer.

Imagine you talked, in person, to the campus police chief who told you that although by policy, guns are not allowed on campus, he reccomended that given the circumstances you should keep it in your car, out of sight so that it doesn't get stolen, because heck, this is <gun friendly state>, he knows everyone keeps guns in their cars. Campus policy also forbids guns in dormitories, of course, but you didn't explicitly ask if you could keep it in your room.

Now, say you were really uncomfortable with leaving such an expensive item as a handgun in your car. Would you take the minimal risk of keeping said firearm in your room, with appropriate precautions such as keeping it in a discrete case for transport (such as a gym bag) and maybe storing it in a small document safe? I know someone in a very similar situation that isn't quite sure what to do.


If you enjoyed reading about "Of guns and dorm rooms" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Sleeping Dog
June 21, 2006, 05:23 PM
A small safe makes sense, especially if you can chain it to plumbing or radiators. It ain't "bulletproof" but it will defeat the casual student thief.


June 21, 2006, 05:25 PM
I would check the laws of this state you are speaking of. Generally it is a big time felony. If this campus police cheif is so cool then why don't you store your guns at the police station?

Personally I would not have volunteered the info but it seems a little late for that now.

June 21, 2006, 05:28 PM
it's not worth it. if you were carrying it for protection, that would be one thing. clearly, you can't do that.

comparing the risk of getting kicked out of school, possible criminal charges preventing you from buying future guns, and generally a bungload of grief, to the risk of somebody stealing a piece of property from your insured vehicle... seems like a no-brainer to me.

June 21, 2006, 05:29 PM
I think that the only "Highroad" suitable advice would be to follow the rules of the university. If you choose to violate the rules, know the consequences and be willing to accept the punishment if you are caught.

I have been in your position and had to make the same choice. Remember, just because it is your right to keep and bare arms doesn't mean you won't be punnished for breaking the law. Is it right? No, but it is the way the world works.

Good luck,


Edit: At my school, the admin didn't need a warrent to enter a dorm room, but they did need one to open any private containers (i.e. bags, trunks, safes).

Stiletto Null
June 21, 2006, 05:32 PM
Well, some guy I know happened to start his collection while he was still in the dorms. He locked his first couple of pieces in a bass guitar gig bag ($40, real comfy, shoulder strapóI should get one for myself) with luggage locks.

June 21, 2006, 05:32 PM
as long as you have a secure way to store it and donít tell any one about it, I donít see the problem. After all, what they donít know, wonít hurt you. I kept my Colt 1911 in my dorm room when I was in school, I kept it locked in a Century fire safe that I bought a Kmart for about 60 bucks. I just kept it under my bed (we had those beds that were about 3ft off the ground so that you could store stuff under) with a blanket over it to avoid questions.

June 21, 2006, 05:34 PM
I think that the only "Highroad" suitable advice would be to follow the rules of the university.

The rules of the university don't even allow hypothetical people to keep it in their cars, but if the campus police (which are real police) chief told a hypothetical person to keep it in their car and apologized that he didn't have any better option for them, are you saying that person should refuse to keep it in their car even given that the police chief said it was OK? If so, what would you suggest he do with it? Just wondering what the 'Highroad' advice actually implicate...selling one's gun?

June 21, 2006, 05:35 PM
I left my shotgun and ALL of my hunting equipment in the back of my extended cab truck for almost 4 months. The Dorms, an RA always has a key. If you decide to break the law (check it first for the punishment) make sure your ready to accept the consequences. If you do bring it in KEEP YOU MOUTH SHUT!

June 21, 2006, 05:38 PM
I would do what I could to make sure that NO ONE knew I had a firearm in my car and/or dormroom. It would be a nightmare if one of the dorm-mates walked off with your firearm and you had to report it stolen. That would mean having to explain what it was doing on school grounds (which is illegal in most states AFAIK). Similarly, some anti-gun liberal college type might report you to the campus police. Keep it a secret, keep it locked and secured, and I suppose it would be OK. But it's definitely a risk.

Smokey Joe
June 21, 2006, 05:44 PM
As to a felony to keep a gun in a college dorm, if that were so, there would NOT be facilities for doing so during the regular school term. IMHO. But I'd check it out, discreetly, of course. "Campus policy" is often a lot different from actual law, and anyhow, is usually more laxly enforced during the summer.

Now, as to a document safe in a dorm room--that "doesn't belong there" and screams that you have something perhaps worth burgling. Especially if it is chained up. OTOH, a laundry bag half full of stinky laundry, can be found in most dorm rooms. The contents are usually very unattractive and of low value. Not something to attract any attention at all, much less a thief's. How would anybody figure that there was a pistol in a soft case, wadded up in the center of the laundry? And what would move them to check?

Best hiding place in the world is usually right under everybody's nose. All theoretically, of course. I wouldn't encourage anyone to do something that was (gasp!) Against Campus Policy.

While we're on the subject, what would be wrong with keeping the firearm in question, in your car? Out of sight, of course, locked up, of course. And with the tacit blessing of the Campus Cops? How likely is a summer grad student's car to be stolen or burgled?

June 21, 2006, 05:48 PM
Given the season, the nature of the people housed in this hypothetical dorm facility (grad students and upperclassmen there for a summer conference, filling the dorms to about 10% capacity), and the mood of the staff (who, despite bicycles absolutely not being allowed in the dorms whatsoever, let people wheel their bicycles right in the front door and past the front desk and down the hall on a daily basis, among other speakeasy tendencies) the chances of having a room inspection for the purposes of contraband detection in this hypothetical situation are exceedingly slim--alchoholic beverages are actually explicitly allowed. There are no actual RAs, only a front desk person who usually has to be woken up in the event one needs to check their mail. Furthermore, a room entry for the purposes of plumbing maintenance or something would certainly not even glance twice at a small document safe, of course certainly not if it was buried in a laundry basket.

I don't understand how people are saying it could be against actual law. I took the fact that there were gun lockers behind the front desk in all the dormitories as evidence that it must be legal to have guns on campus.

June 21, 2006, 05:52 PM
are you saying that person should refuse to keep it in their car even given that the police chief said it was OK?

No, If the Chief said it was ok then it is ok. If you want to keep them in your dorm then that is your choice. I just don't want people saying, "the policy infringes on RKBA therefore I can break it and get away with it."

There is a good chance that you could store your guns in your dorm and not get caught. Just know the consequences and know that if you do get caught no ACLU or NRA lawyer is going to rush to your side to defend your civil rights.

June 21, 2006, 05:57 PM
Check with the laws and rules and make sure you understand the ramifications. Be informed.

Then do what you feel is in your best interest. Some laws and rules are really dumb, as we all know.

If you decide to break the rules don't tell ANYBODY about it; don't brag, don't display, don't show anyone... or you will get busted.

A small sentry safe costs $30. Similar safes are very cheap. You can chain it or use a bicycle lock to something stationary in your room or hidden from view in a drawer.

Personally, the "keep in locked in your car" idea is SOOOOO inane. It invites theft of guns and is a black market for guns. I know, b/c I've had TWO guns stolen from my vehicle! :fire:

Dorm rooms are generally quite secure if you keep them locked. The ones I've lived in (many) all had steel door frames and thick solid heavy wood doors and huge deadbolts and concrete walls. Provided you don't have a roommate or anyone else with a key, and you're window isn't accessible from the outside, as long as it's locked you aren't vulnerable particularly to theft.

Keep in mind that college maintance or officials can and will make surprise visits so keep it out of sight if you choose to keep it there.

Oh, and I also know somebody that started his gun collection while living in a dormatory. :D

June 21, 2006, 06:04 PM
Leave your gun at home!!!!! I find it hard to believe that a dorm would have gunsafes at the front desk. Or if they do, im sure they contain something other than firearms. I recomend checking with local gunclubs/gunstores. Usually there is a place you can keep your gun off grounds. Wither it be a local gun club or gunstore. Of course alot of people recomend the "What they dont know cant hurt them" well thats easy for them to say, they dont have to do the time if you get caught. It is not just a school offense, it is ILLEGAL to have a gun on school grounds. The dorms are school grounds. Being leinent toward alcohol consumption in the dorms is one thing, but keeping a firearm in the dorms is something else. I know some states have an exception for ROTC or other school organizations that use them for school events, but I dont think there are any that allow just any student to have one in their posetion. Even with the ROTC/ marksman clubs, they have to have the firearms locked up in the club office, not in the members dorm rooms. I am from Virginia, and go to school in Florida. Both are fairly gun friendly states, but I do not know of any gun friendly state where it is not illegal to have a firearm on school grounds. Id say if you dont want to leave it in your car, and cant find a place to store it off school grounds. Leave it at home! You might not get to use your gun for a few months, but it would be a few years if you get caught. Of course it is your own choice, mabye you wont get caught, but know the consequences if you do. It is the laws and school policies you will get charged with. Just because someone said it was ok for you to do, doesnt change the policy. If the wrong person finds out, well the judges word is the only one that will matter then.

June 21, 2006, 06:51 PM
Leave your gun at home!!!!! I find it hard to believe that a dorm would have gunsafes at the front desk. Or if they do, im sure they contain something other than firearms.

No, they explicity are 'resident hall firearm storage facilities'.

June 21, 2006, 07:29 PM
I'm a college student too, though being in NY the law and campus policies are different. My understanding is that NY state law prohibits firearms on campus without written permission from the university. I think it is a felony in NY, but it's been a while since I've read the law, so I may be wrong.

I would recommend looking up the relevant state law to see specifically what it says. For a good state, it might be a low level misdemeanor. It may even be legal to have a firearm on university grounds for your state, I don't know.

If it is illegal to keep a firearm on campus, the law probably makes exceptions if you have the permission of the university.

If it's a law issue, I'd see if you could get a letter from the campus police chief saying that you could posses/store your firearm on school grounds.
Maybe say something like "I'm planning on locking it in my car like you suggested, but I'd feel better if you could get me a signed letter on school letterhead saying I can keep a firearm on campus, just incase I get stopped or something".

If it's just a school policy issue, not a law issue, then you probably wouldn't need to worry too much.

June 21, 2006, 11:21 PM
Too many burglaries to autos on and around school campuses - do not leave it in the car. And, do not take it to the dorm. Wait until U can live off campus after the 1st year - or just wait period. U will get kicked out of college if caught, and you can be charged with a crime. Is it worth all that?

By some pepper spray if U are worried (maybe also against rules - don't know - but I would bet 1/2 the women on campus carry it)

June 22, 2006, 08:21 AM
I kept handguns and shotguns in my college dorm rooms. They went back and forth with me in a military duffle bag. I knew the consequences and just didn't give a damn.

One option is to keep the gun with you in your room, but leave the mags and barrel in the car, or just field strip and take or leave the frame or slide.

I wish I would have been smart enough to have carried a gun on late night campus strolls though. I had a few close calls. Instead I bought an 8" butcher knife at Kroger and carried that instead. easier to throw away $5 than a $500 gun.

June 22, 2006, 09:23 AM
Don't ask questions that you:
1) Already know the answer to.
2) Won't like.


If you enjoyed reading about "Of guns and dorm rooms" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!