OUS institutes new firearms policy

Students, employees and anyone who has business at SOU are now prohibited from carrying firearms on campus after the State Board of Higher Education unanimously approved a new guns policy Mar. 2.

Some people are exempt from this new policy, including law-enforcement members and people that are a part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps or other military programs.

Alex Miller, a senior at SOU, was asked about his thoughts on the recent policy,

“There is a way to be discreet when you have a concealed-handgun permit, and I don’t think it is constitutionally acceptable, it’s your right to carry if you’ve obtained a permit.”

Last year the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that the Oregon University System didn’t have the authority to prohibit anyone with a handgun license from bringing their firearm on campus.

The court did recognize however that the board still had broad authority over their properties, so OUS instituted a new internal policy prohibiting students, faculty, vendors, or anyone with a “contractual relationship” with the university from possessing firearms on campus. This slight rewording allowed them to sidestep legal issues with the old administrative rule, while still banning guns on campus.

Not allowing people to carry firearms on campus is seemingly safer, yet students still wonder if a policy will really prevent the irresponsible people from carrying dangerous weapons on campus.

“Just because you tell someone they can’t do something doesn’t mean they won’t do it,” said Melanie Hunt, a junior at SOU, claiming that in the last 50 years there has been over 90 shootings in public schools.

According to those opposed to the new policy, faculty and administrators who have gone through a rigorous process to obtain their concealed-handguns permit are now unable to properly defend themselves or their students should a horrible event occur. University leaders are now being sued by the Oregon Firearms Federation for what they see as bypassing last year’s decision by the Court of Appeals.

The Executive Director of the Oregon Firearms Federation, Kevin Starrett, released a public statement addressing the lawsuit, saying that OUS is putting their students and staff in danger.

The revised policy does, however, recognize SOU’s “obligation to provide a safe environment to its students, employees, visitors, vendors and patrons.”

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