Following a lawsuit filed by the Oregon Firearms Educational Foundation (OFEF) against the Oregon Board of Higher Education and the Oregon University System (OUS), the Oregon Court of Appeals has struck down an administrative rule banning firearms, among other weapons, from being carried on OUS campuses.
The law was held invalid, with the judges’ decision citing that it “is an exercise of an ‘authority to regulate’ firearms that is not expressly authorized by the Legislative Assembly.” Under state law, the Oregon State Legislature is the only body with the authority to regulate firearms.
Following this decision, anyone with a concealed carry permit will now be permitted to bring his registered weapon on campus.
The OUS quickly released a statement on Wednesday in which OUS chancellor George Pernsteiner expressed his regret concerning the ruling:
“We are disappointed in the ruling of the Court in this case and will consider our options. Our greatest concern is for the safety of our students and the entire campus community. Whether accidental or intentional, firearms violence continues to hurt or kill thousands of Americans each year in this country. We will continue to review the opinion in order to consider future options to protect the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors.”
The statement was unclear about any intentions to appeal the decision.
This morning, UO President Richard Lariviere sent out an email to the university community to inform them of the decision. Lariviere made no mention of his reaction to the news, though he assured that “the safety of the entire campus community remains our top priority.” The president did, however, conclude the email with the above-mentioned statement released by the OUS.
When asked how he felt about the implications of the decision, Max Ruzi, a UO sophomore, replied, “Anyone with a concealed carry permit knows the responsibility of having a weapon. The people we should be scared are those who don’t respect a gun’s power.”
In the judges’ decision, they originally rejected multiple claims by the OFEF and ignored the issue raised regarding Second Amendment rights. Specifically, the court denied the argument that the State Board of Higher Education had no authority to enact laws that affect members of the public not affiliated with the universities, as well as the contention that Oregon state law “ expressly permits individuals with concealed handgun licenses to carry firearms on college and university campuses.” The court then concluded by agreeing with the claim that the authority to regulate firearms is vested solely in the Oregon State Legislature.
The court remarked that the state laws regarding firearms are in place in order to “ensure uniform statewide standards” and prevent the confusion of discrepancies between state and local law.
The verdict comes about amid continuing controversy regarding the University of Oregon’s efforts to convert the Department of Public Safety to a sworn police force with the ability carry guns, a transition that is expected to take six years to complete. On Oct. 7th, the university will make its request to the State Board of Education who, since the passing of Senate Bill 405, now has the power to approve the police force.