Seven of Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities -- under pressure from gun-rights advocates who believe that carrying firearms on a campus full of young people is a good idea -- quietly have started to allow guns to be carried in open spaces on their campuses.
California, Edinboro, Slippery Rock, Lock Haven, Millersville, Shippensburg and Kutztown have amended their policies during the past year.
Blame the state Legislature for this.
In 2011, lawmakers adopted and Gov. Tom Corbett signed an expansion of the state's so-called Castle Doctrine, which extended the right of people to use deadly force against attackers outside their homes, aka their "castles." As a consequence, it became more difficult to prohibit individuals who are properly licensed from carrying firearms in public places across the state.
Lawyers for the State System of Higher Education, which governs the state-owned schools, concluded that campus bans probably were no longer legally enforceable. Gradually, schools have been rescinding policies that prohibited carrying weapons anywhere on their campuses.
It is unfortunate that the schools seem to have lost the ability to properly regulate what happens on their campuses, even though their grounds are contained and should fall within the control of administrators.
One of them, Edinboro president Julie Wollman, told the Post-Gazette's Bill Schackner that she would rather not allow guns on the campus and that her view is shared by her colleagues at other state universities.
Recently, the chairman of the system's board of governors asked the remaining campuses to hold off on changing their weapons policies so a task force on campus safety can examine the issue.
The best outcome would be if the system can figure out a way to legally prevent people from carrying weapons on the grounds of the state's universities. Unfortunately, that probably would require action by the Legislature, which so far has exhibited nothing but allegiance to the gun lobby when it comes to protecting its citizens from the dangers of gun violence.