Despite New Law, Firearms Not Allowed at Duke

State law expanding gun rights allows Duke to keep own policies

Despite a new North Carolina law that takes effect Oct. 1, expanding where registered gun owners can bring firearms, nothing changes at Duke: Firearms are still prohibited on property owned and leased by Duke University and Duke University Health System.

New legislation signed by Gov. Pat McCrory lets concealed handgun permit holders leave guns in locked cars on state college campuses, public schools, restaurants that serve alcohol and other areas.

However, the state law also provides private higher education institutions such as Duke the right to continue to enforce individual policies that make it illegal to bring a firearm on their property. Duke expressly prohibits firearms on university, health system and leased properties and has a policy that applies to all Duke community members, visitors and patients.

"The safety of everyone on campus is our highest priority, which is why we have always and will continue to ban weapons and adhere to our past safety policies," said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration. "Nothing will change in terms of what people are allowed to bring onto Duke's campus."

To be consistent with state law, Duke will erect signs in areas of the university and health system to alert community members and visitors that it is illegal to bring firearms on its property and property it leases.

In addition to firearms, Duke prohibits all weapons on its property. Duke defines a "weapon" as:

  • Firearm (including BB guns, whether loaded or unloaded)
  • Knives (including switchblades or other knives having an automatic spring release device)
  • Stilettos (excluding small pen or pocket knives)
  • Police batons or nightsticks
  • All martial arts weapons
  • Electronic defense weapons (tasers)

"We feel prohibiting weapons on campus is a common sense policy," Cavanaugh said. "It's our responsibility to do what we can to create a safe place for students, employees and visitors."