Pro­fes­sor su­ing univer­sity over gun pro­hi­bi­tion

Case to test new Mo. amend­ment

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY KELLY RIDDELL

A Univer­sity of Mis­souri pro­fes­sor is fil­ing a law­suit against the school for pro­hibit­ing guns on cam­pus, in what is aimed to be one of the first tests of the state’s newly amended con­sti­tu­tion that pro­vides for “strict scru­tiny” of gun re­stric­tions.

Royce de R. Baron­des, who is an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of law at the Univer­sity of Mis­souri, is chal­leng­ing the cam­pus’ pol­icy that “the pos­ses­sion of firearms on univer­sity prop­erty is pro­hib­ited ex­cept in regularly ap­proved pro­grams or by univer­sity agents or em­ploy­ees in the line of duty.”

The law­suit, be­ing ac­cepted in state court Mon­day, claims the univer­sity’s pol­icy is un­con­sti­tu­tional un­der a 2014 strength­en­ing of its state “Sec­ond Amend­ment” pro­vi­sion. The amend­ment de­clares that the right of ev­ery citizen to keep and bear arms, am­mu­ni­tion and ac­ces­sories in de­fense of his home, per­son, fam­ily, prop­erty or “when law­fully sum­moned in aid of civil power” can­not be ques­tioned and is “un­alien­able.”

The law change made Mis­souri the sec­ond state in the na­tion, af­ter Louisiana, to pro­vide for so-called strict scru­tiny of gun re­stric­tions, which is the strong­est level of pro­tec­tion.

“This case is an op­por­tu­nity for good con­sti­tu­tional ju­rispru­dence with us pass­ing an amend­ment to our con­sti­tu­tion last year,” said Jen­nifer Bukowsky, who is rep­re­sent­ing Mr. Baron­des in the law­suit. “The univer­sity’s rule is so ob­vi­ously in vi­o­la­tion of our state’s con­sti­tu­tion, we see this case as be­ing the best ve­hi­cle to pro­tect one of our na­tion’s very first free­doms — our free­dom to self-de­fense.”

Law­mak­ers in 14 states are push­ing bills to al­low con­cealed carry on a col­lege or univer­sity, and in June, Texas Gov. Greg Ab­bott signed his state leg­is­la­ture’s bill into law. Last year Mis­souri law­mak­ers passed a bill al­low­ing spe­cially trained school em­ploy­ees to carry con­cealed guns on cam­puses.

But Ms. Bukowsky thinks stu­dents’ and pro­fes­sors’ right to carry is im­plicit through the state’s amended con­sti­tu­tion, and there­fore is chal­leng­ing the univer­sity’s code pro­hibit­ing it.

“We aim to act to give ac­tual con­tent and im­pact to our amended con­sti­tu­tion, so we’ll have more vi­brant gun rights in the eyes of the law and give the ac­tual vot­ers what they voted for in amend­ing the con­sti­tu­tion,” Ms. Bukowsky said. “We need to get the facts be­fore the court so they can be in­ter­preted more fa­vor­ably to­ward those who law­fully pos­sess firearms.”

Mr. Baron­des is a con­cealed carry per­mit holder in the state of Mis­souri. He also teaches a course on firearms law and has re­ceived ex­ten­sive train­ing on the safe han­dling and use and tac­tics of law­fully us­ing a hand­gun, Ms. Bukowsky said.

The Univer­sity of Mis­souri spills into the town­ship of Columbia and owns many prop­er­ties around town, mak­ing it un­law­ful to carry in much of Columbia, Ms. Bukowsky said. In ad­di­tion, the area has seen its fair share of crime, with peo­ple want­ing to arm them­selves for self-de­fense, she said.

In April, Mark Adair was shot and killed by law en­force­ment in a univer­sity park­ing garage. In the 24 hours be­fore, he had at­tacked three women in three dif­fer­ent places. Mr. Adair hid in the back­seat of his first vic­tim’s car while she was shop­ping for gro­ceries. When she came out, he “dis­played a gun and pressed the gun against the side of her chest,” ac­cord­ing to a Columbia Po­lice Depart­ment Of­fense Re­port of the in­ci­dent.

It was only af­ter the first woman “pulled a Smith and Wes­son Model 642 hand­gun out of her purse,” and dis­played her firearm, that the “as­sailant dis­en­gaged and ran away,” ac­cord­ing to the po­lice re­port.

“The univer­sity is try­ing to dis­arm law-abiders and, in do­ing so, is mak­ing them more vul­ner­a­ble to the law­break­ers,” said Ms. Bukowsky. “They’re mak­ing this [self-de­fense] choice for me, and we can’t make that choice for our­selves.”

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