LAS CRUCES — Saturday morning’s shooting on the University of New Mexico campus that left 19-year-old UNM student Brandon Travis dead and New Mexico State basketball player Mike Peake hospitalized has prompted many to speak out wondering about gun laws on New Mexico college campuses.
According to police reports obtained by the Las Cruces Sun NewsPeake — the NMSU basketball team’s starting power forward, who was in Albuquerque because the NMSU and UNM teams were scheduled to play Saturday — drove an Uber to the UNM campus on the pretense that he was meeting a girl he was dating would be texted.
According to witness statements, this turned out to be a trap in an affidavit. Instead, Peake was attacked by three UNM students – one of whom was armed with a baseball bat.
Travis was reportedly armed with a gun. According to police, Peake was carrying a gun himself. The two engaged in a shooting outside of Coronado Hall, an on-campus dorm, police believe.
So what is the law?
When it comes to carrying firearms on New Mexico college or university campuses, the law is clear. It’s illegal.
Under New Mexico state law (30-7-2.4 NMSA 1978), guns are strictly prohibited on campus, including:
- The buildings and grounds of a university
- Sports fields and venues
- University parking lot
According to law.justia.com, this also applies to “any other public building or facility, including playing fields and parking lots, not owned by the university, in or on which university-related and sanctioned activities are carried out”.
Carrying a firearm on campus is a minor offense punishable by up to 180 days in prison and a fine of up to $500. (It should be noted that this law applies only at universities; Carrying a deadly weapon on K-12 school premises is a fourth-degree felony.)
Are there exceptions?
Yes, there are some statutory exceptions. These include:
- peace officers
- University security personnel
- A student, instructor, or other university-authorized personnel involved in Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force reserve officer training programs or a federally authorized fighter security training program
- A person conducting or participating in a university-sanctioned program, course, or other activity that involves the carrying of a firearm
- A person over the age of 19, on campus in a private motor vehicle “or other private means of transportation”, for the lawful protection of the person or the property of the person or someone else
It should also be noted that possession of a concealed carry license does not in any way affect the limitations or exceptions.
What does the NMSU Student Athlete Code of Conduct say?
There is no policy against New Mexico state student athletes owning a firearm.
The NMSU policy for everyone on campus reflects state law that dictates that carrying a firearm, either openly or concealed, is prohibited on a college campus. A person over the age of 19 may carry a firearm in a private automobile or “other private transportation” at NMSU as permitted by state law.
University policy prohibits students from carrying a firearm in a campus vehicle.
On Monday, NMSU released answers to questions it received related to Saturday’s shooting. Answering the question “Are physical education students allowed to take guns on team outings?” The NMSU stated: “No. Possession, use or distribution of firearms on campus or in any sponsored campus activity is a violation of the University Student Code of Conduct.”
NMSU abolished its student-athlete misconduct policy in 2019. Now student-athletes follow the same guidelines that apply to all students on campus. If a student is accused of criminal misconduct, the Dean of Studies investigates. However, when student-athletes are accused or convicted of a crime, coaches have discretion in disciplining.
In 2019, men’s basketball player Terrell Brown pleaded no plea to a 2017 assault allegation in California. Prior to Brown’s conviction, the student-athlete policy stated that any student-athlete “shall be permanently discharged from his or her team if he or she is convicted, pleads guilty, or fails to charge a criminal offense.” Brown was not fired from the team.
Damien Willis is senior reporter for the Las Cruces Sun-News. He can be reached at 575-541-5443, [email protected] or @DamienWillis on twitter. Jason Groves can be reached at [email protected] or 575-541-5459. Follow him on Twitter @jpgroves.