Col­leges find ways to foil pro-gun rul­ings

Poli­cies make car­ry­ing tough

The Washington Times Daily - - Front Page - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

DEN­VER | Courts are rul­ing in fa­vor of al­low­ing those with con­cealed- carry per­mits to bring their hand­guns on cam­pus, but uni­ver­si­ties are fig­ur­ing out ways to keep the guns out.

Gun-rights ad­vo­cates re­cently notched ma­jor le­gal vic­to­ries in Colorado and Ore­gon, with courts in both states agree­ing that univer­sity poli­cies ban­ning firearms on cam­pus must de­fer to state laws al­low­ing per­mit hold­ers to carry con­cealed hand­guns.

In re­sponse, how­ever, univer­sity of­fi­cials in Ore­gon and Virginia have en­acted poli­cies al­low­ing con­cealed carry on cam­pus but not in build­ings, in­clud­ing class­rooms, dor­mi­to­ries, event cen­ters and din­ing halls.

The re­sult is that per­mit

hold­ers may do lit­tle more than walk across cam­pus with their hand­guns, an out­come that cir­cum­vents the in­tent of the court de­ci­sions, crit­ics say.

Kurt Mueller, chief li­ai­son for Stu­dents for Con­cealed Carry on Cam­pus, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion is con­sid­er­ing whether to chal­lenge the univer­sity poli­cies in court.

“We have enor­mous prac­ti­cal con­cerns about this,” Mr. Mueller said. “If you’re a stu­dent, as a prac­ti­cal mat­ter, what this means is you have to leave your hand­gun in your car. And a lot of states say you can’t leave a hand­gun in your car, which means you have to leave it at home.”

The Ore­gon Board of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion lost the bat­tle to keep its firearms ban in Septem­ber, when the state Court of Ap­peals ruled that the state’s Con­cealed Carry Act took prece­dence over the univer­sity’s ban on firearms.

At the same time, the court ruled that the board has broad con­trol over its prop­erty. At its March 2 meet­ing, the board voted to en­act an In­ter­nal Pol­icy on Firearms, which pro­hibits hand­guns in univer­sity build­ings as well as at sports and en­ter­tain­ment events.

What’s more, the pol­icy pre­vents any­one who en­ters into a busi­ness re­la­tion­ship with the state uni­ver­si­ties from car­ry­ing guns on cam­pus prop­erty. That would in­clude stu­dents, em­ploy­ees, con­trac­tors and vis­i­tors who buy tick­ets to univer­sity-spon­sored events.

That leaves al­most no­body el­i­gi­ble, ex­cept vis­i­tors with no fi­nan­cial con­nec­tion to the sys­tem’s seven state uni­ver­si­ties. The board agreed to make ex­cep­tions for cam­pus po­lice, stu­dents in mil­i­tary pro­grams such as the Re­serve Of­fi­cers’ Train­ing Corps, res­i­dents in non-cam­pus hous­ing, and those in hunt­ing or shoot­ing clubs.

“This new pol­icy rec­og­nizes the need to main­tain this con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for stu­dents and the cam­pus com­mu­nity, while rec­og­niz­ing le­gal and other re­quire­ments at the same time,” the board said in a state­ment.

While the strat­egy ap­pears to vi­o­late the spirit, if not the let­ter, of the con­cealed-carry rul­ings, at least one court has up­held the ap­proach.

In Jan­uary, the Virginia Supreme Court up­held Ge­orge Ma­son Univer­sity’s ban on hand­guns in build­ings and events. How­ever, a Virginia state law, not a univer­sity pol­icy, pro­hibits the con­cealed car­ry­ing on cam­pus.

Un­der Wis­con­sin’s 2011 law al­low­ing con­cealed carry, uni­ver­si­ties may pro­hibit per­mit hold­ers from bring­ing firearms into cam­pus build­ings or events.

The next front in the bat­tle over con­cealed carry on cam­pus is Colorado, where the state Supreme Court ruled Mon­day that the Univer­sity of Colorado’s pol­icy ban­ning guns on its four cam­puses vi­o­lated state law.

The univer­sity’s Board of Re­gents is ex­pected to dis­cuss the rul­ing at its meet­ing next week.

“This is one of the dis­cus­sions that I think they would have,” univer­sity spokesman Ken Mc­connel­logue said. “We have a rul­ing, now what does this mean for our cam­puses?”

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