Friday, March 2, 2012

Gun Lobby Shoots Itself in Foot Regarding Guns in Schools and Universities

A few years ago, Oregon Firearm Federation gun lobbyist Kevin Starrett took shoddy aim when he targeted Oregon schools for a lawsuit. Starrett, apparently having decided to shoot first and think later, chose to sue the Oregon University System on behalf of Jeffrey Maxwell, a student at Western Oregon University. Maxwell, a concealed handgun license permit holder, was suspended by a student judicial panel under a student conduct rule banning the possession or use of firearms and other weapons.

Starrett took the case with the hopes of bringing in donations to his organizations. He also hoped to force all Oregon schools, including elementary schools, to accept loaded, hidden guns in schools.

What Starrett didn’t think about is that most Oregonians don’t want guns in their kids first grade class, or middle school or high school. And they don’t think that college campuses are a great place for hidden guns either. So many Oregonians are against hidden guns in schools that Senator Peter Courtney introduced SB 1594 last Monday to prohibit hidden guns in schools. But that wasn’t enough for the legislators who literally owe their legislative seats to OFF and the NRA. So an amendment was added to SB 1594 that would have provided schools with an “opt out” that allows schools to accept hidden guns on campuses if that’s what the school administration wants.

The bill was defeated by one vote. One small inch that was the difference between Starrett getting guns in all schools and Starrett blowing his entire agenda.  

Shame on those who voted against it for endangering our children!  Senators Atkinson; Boquist; Ferrioli; George; Girod; Johnson; Kruse; Morse; Nelson; Olsen; Telfer; Thomsen; Verger; Whitsett; and Winters.

Starrett didn’t shoot his dream in the head but he did damage it badly. Now, because of Starrett’s arrogance, many Oregonians know that hidden guns are allowed in schools. Now, because of Starrett’s terrible aim, Oregon University Systems has decided to take other avenues to keep guns of off campuses. Now, because Oregonians know which legislators are selling out their common sense and decency to OFF and the NRA, these legislators need to do a lot of explaining to a lot of angry parents.  I've talked to many of them. I AM one of them.

Well, I found out just now that the Oregon University System has just re-instated a prohibition against firearms (including concealed firearms) on their campuses, for anyone entering into a contract with them.  

The university system’s goal in placing the ban before the 12-member Higher Education Board today is to secure a safe learning environment free of the fear that a student at the next desk has a concealed gun, OUS spokeswoman Di Saunders said. 
“If somebody leaned over and their jacket opened, and somebody saw a weapon, they’d be nervous or scared or concerned,” she said. “That’s not another worry that you need when you’re trying to get a degree.” 
The new policy that the higher education board will consider today requires most people who have a relationship with a university to agree to leave their handguns at home. 
The fine print will apply to ticket buyers at sporting events, students signing up for dorm rooms, vendors doing business on campus, faculty and staff who draw a university paycheck, outside groups that lease university facilities and attendees at campus conferences. 
The proposal is close to but not as global as the previous ban because it doesn’t apply to people who are not under a contract with the university, Saunders said. 
“The old policy included facilities/buildings and adjacent grounds. This is more so the facilities themselves. There’s not as much coverage of adjacent grounds,” Saunders said. 
The new ban should pass legal muster, she said, because of a 2009 Court of Appeals ruling denying a Medford teacher the right to bring a concealed weapon to school. 
The court upheld the Medford School District’s employment policy prohibiting concealed weapons and, significantly, did not find that the policy ran afoul of the state’s pre-emptive rule. 
“The court distinguished between an internal policy and an attempt to regulate firearms,” Saunders said. 

Another shot in Starrett's foot by his own doing.

Oregonians are a smart bunch with a lot of common sense. Many are highly responsible gun owners and, as I've said many times before and will again, they know that kids and guns never mix.

That’s much more than the Oregon gun lobby knows.

UPDATE (3/3/12):  The Oregon university System has reinstated a ban on guns on campuses.  Check out the NEXT POST to find out more about it and how Starrett advocates his members disobey the regulation like criminals.