LAS CRUCES — The Saturday morning shooting on the University of New Mexico campus that left 19-year-old UNM student Brandon Travis dead and hospitalized the New Mexico State basketball player Mike Peake, raises many questions about gun laws on college campuses in New Mexico.

According to police reports obtained by the Las Cruces Sun-NewsPeake — the starting NMSU basketball team forward who was in Albuquerque because the NMSU and UNM teams were scheduled to play Saturday — took an Uber to the UNM campus under the guise that he was to meet a girl he had been texting with.

This, according to witness statements in an affidavit of arrest, turned out to be a trap. Peake was instead assaulted by three UNM students, one of whom was armed with a baseball bat.

Travis was allegedly armed with a gun. Police said Peake was carrying a gun. The two engaged in a shooting outside Coronado Hall, a dormitory on campus, according to police.

So what is the law?

When it comes to carrying firearms on college or university campuses in New Mexico, the law is clear. It’s illegal.

Under New Mexico State Law (30-7-2.4 NMSA 1978), firearms are strictly prohibited on university premises, including:

  • The buildings and grounds of a university
  • Fields and sports halls
  • University parking areas

This also applies to “any other public building or land, including playgrounds and parking areas not owned by the university, in or on which university-related and sanctioned activities are exercised,” according to law.justia.com.

Carrying a firearm on college property is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to $500 in fines. (It should be noted that this law concerns only higher education institutions; carrying a deadly weapon on the premises of a K-12 school is a fourth degree felony.)

Are there exceptions?

Yes, there are some exceptions provided by law. These include:

  • peace officers
  • University security personnel
  • A student, instructor, or other university-authorized personnel who participates in Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Army Reserve Officer Training Corps programs. aircraft or a state-authorized fighter safety training program
  • A person conducting or participating in a university-approved program, course, or other activity involving the carrying of a firearm
  • A person over the age of 19 on university premises in a private automobile “or other private means of transportation”, for the legal protection of the person or property of others

It’s also worth pointing out that having a concealed carry permit has no significant bearing on the restrictions or exceptions.

What does the NMSU Student-Athlete Code of Conduct say?

There is no policy prohibiting student athletes in the state of New Mexico from owning a firearm.

NMSU’s policy for anyone on campus reflects state law, which states that carrying a firearm, 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 conveyance” to NMSU, as permitted by state law.

University policy prohibits students from carrying a firearm in a university vehicle.

On Monday, the NMSU released responses to questions it received regarding Saturday’s shooting. Answering the question “Are student athletes allowed to bring weapons on team trips?” The NMSU said, “No. The possession, use, or distribution of any weapon on college property or during a college-sponsored activity is a violation of the college student code of conduct.”

NMSU eliminated its student-athlete misconduct policy in 2019. Now, student-athletes follow the same policies that govern all students on campus. If a student is accused of criminal misconduct, the Dean of Students will investigate. However, when student-athletes are charged or convicted of a crime, coaches have discretion over discipline.

In 2019, men’s basketball player Terrell Brown did not contest a 2017 felony assault charge in California. Prior to Brown’s sentencing, the student-athlete policy stated that any student-athlete “shall be permanently discharged from his team if he is found guilty, pleads guilty, or does not contest any felony charges.” Brown was not fired from the team.

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Damien Willis is a 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 @jproves.

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