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Heartland reviews concealed-carry policy

Heartland reviews concealed-carry policy

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NORMAL — Heartland Community College officials are reviewing whether they need a policy on carrying concealed handguns after a trustee said state law should be enough.

“I would prefer not to act as sheep in this instance,” board of trustees member John “Jac” Copes said at Tuesday night’s meeting. “Let the statute speak for itself.”

Heartland President Rob Widmer said he would check with legal counsel on whether the absence of a specific policy would have any impact on the college. The matter will be brought back to the board at its Jan. 21 meeting.

Copes said after the meeting that he didn’t “want to draw attention” to the college being a “gun-free zone” because most of the mass shootings in the United States have occurred in gun-free zones.

Under the state concealed-carry law approved earlier this year, guns are prohibited from being carried in any buildings, athletic venues and other property, including parking areas, of public or private community colleges, colleges or universities. However, a person with a concealed-carry permit can carry a concealed weapon in a parking area for the limited purpose of storing or retrieving a firearm from the vehicle’s trunk.

Colleges and universities are allowed to adopt policies on storage of firearms that are more restrictive but, if they do, they must include a designated area where people can park vehicles that carry firearms.

The proposed policy at Heartland mirrors state law without further restrictions in parking areas. It also would prohibit firearms from being carried or transported in motor vehicles owned, leased or rented by the college, a restriction allowed under state law.

Illinois State University also is in the process of approving concealed-carry policies, according to Illinois State University Police Chief Aaron Woodruff.

The proposed ISU policies, already endorsed by the Academic Senate, would prohibit guns in the parking areas at University High School and Thomas Metcalf School and also in parking lots used for tailgating on game days, Woodruff said.

In other business

The board also approved a total property levy of $20.9 million, which represents an increase of $607,234 over last year.

Widmer said this would result in a Heartland tax bill of $250 for a home with a fair market value of $150,000 — an increase of $3.85 over the previous year.

The levy is based on the assumption that the total taxable value of property in the district will increase by about 1.4 percent, Widmer said.

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