Saturday, March 3, 2012

Guns Now Prohibited Again at Oregon Universities, Much To the Dismay of Extremists


For decades, guns were prohibited on the campuses of Oregon's university system.  The policy was widely popular among students and staff and the general public.  But the extremist pro-gun group, Oregon Firearms Federation, in their agenda to put more guns in more hands and more places, brought a lawsuit on behalf of a student.  After years in the courts and many tens of thousands of dollars from O.F.F., the Oregon Appeals Court last year ruled university system policy was preempted by a state statute. 

This extremist group and their pocket politician, Kim Thatcher, unhappy even with that ruling, then started pushing for guns in grade schools.  Their first target was the Newberg School System.  When the gun lobby threatened another costly lawsuit at the cost of student education, the Newberg School District caved into pressure and allowed concealed guns on their campuses, as quietly as possible.

Make no doubt about it:  they won't stop there.  When will extremists target your kid's school?

Only an extremist would want guns where our children study and congregate.  It's not enough that Oregon gun extremists from O.F.F. have written bills to arm felons, reduce background checks, destroy background check records, and allow concealed weapons permits for drug addicts; now they want armed people with hidden weapons around our youth -- people who can get their permits without ever having to fire a single bullet in training, who didn't need to have even a minute of training in crisis management, and who may have wanted a gun for questionable purposes (one purpose, often stated by these guys, is to "protect" other people as if they were the police).  Despite what the gun lobbies want you to think, people with concealed handguns do have accidents and do commit gun crimes, even murders.

HERE is a recent example of a conceal carry permit holder, a janitor at a Connecticut elementary school, who took off his gun belt while working in the school and accidentally left it there, in full reach of children, and left the building.  Luckily, a teacher found the loaded gun before children could get hold of it.

HERE is another recent example, from here in Oregon, where a school security guard accidentally left his loaded gun somewhere on his route, patrolling Salem's 14 schools.  He thought it might have been at a shopping mall, but there was no way to know for sure, and the school system had to call all 6000 parents.  As far as I know, it was never found.

As I pointed out in yesterday's post, O.F.F.'s lawsuit only succeeded in one thing:  bringing out into the open the extremism of the gun lobby.  Now the public knows how far they will go to put more guns in more hands and in more places, no matter what the consequences.

Well, students and faculty of Oregon universities are overwhelmingly against the idea of guns on campus, as they are at universities across the nation, and people with conceal carry permits represent only a small fraction of the general population.  There are good reasons why the overwhelming majority of the 4,314 colleges and universities in the United States prohibit students and faculty from carrying concealed handguns on campus.  Not a single student or faculty member I've talked to here has been supportive of guns on campus.

After last year's ruling, the Oregon University System began considering their options.  Today it was announced that concealed guns are once again prohibited at universities in Oregon. 

From today's article in Eugene's Register-Guard:

The new internal rules prohibit students, employees, vendors and people who use campus facilities or attend ticketed events from carrying concealed weapons on campus, even if they have a permit to do so. The new rules were approved unanimously and take effect immediately.

[A] different appellate ruling found that local governments and state agencies can enact internal rules restricting weapons. That’s because internal rules do not carry the force of state statutes and therefore don’t conflict with the Legislature’s exclusive authority over gun laws, officials have said.

The new policy isn’t quite as far-reaching as the earlier administrative rules, which flatly prohibited any guns anywhere on a campus. The new gun policy applies to campus buildings but not grounds and wouldn’t apply to visitors who don’t have a business relationship with a university, haven’t purchased a ticket to an event or aren’t visiting a campus building.
In response to a question about how the rules would be enforced, Oregon University System Chancellor George Pernsteiner said it would depend on who was found carrying a weapon. A student would face sanctions through the student code of conduct, an employee through the appropriate discipline and grievance procedures, and vendors through contract enforcement, he said. Visitors who violated the rules would be asked to leave campus and could face trespass charges, he said.
The new rules do have exceptions for law enforcement officers, ROTC programs and people living in family housing. They also allow campuses to permit unloaded firearms to be stored on campus by students or employees who use them for hunting or target shooting.

According to O.F.F.'s fringe executive director, Kevin Starrett, the students should be supportive of more guns around them, to fend off rape attempts:

“College campuses are, like, baby, that’s open season,” he said. “There’s a bunch of, like, 19-year-old girls walking around in the dark. You’ve got to be stupid to think those places are somehow safer than anywhere else.”

So you would expect the student body to decry this most recent attempt to adhere to the "guns are allowed" Appellate Court ruling, right?  Quite the opposite.  According to Ben Eckstein, the University of Oregon student body president:

“A college campus is statistically one of the safest places on the planet. There’s a reason for that. We have a culture of peaceful, informed, engaged activism. A deadly weapon of any kind runs counter to that culture,” he said.

Eckstein went on to say, in a different article:

“We cannot and must not go down a path that weaponizes our college campuses,” he said. “The sanctity of our learning environments and the safety of our campus communities are too important.”

So how did O.F.F.'s executive director respond to the new ruling?  He decided that the Oregon University System regulation, well-vetted by their lawyers, should be ignored and is, in his mind, "unlawful."  In a typical, pro-criminal manner,  he actually suggested that O.F.F. members rebel against the new no-guns-on-campus ruling by the Oregon University System and carry their guns anyway!  From their most recent alert:

We strongly recommend that if you have any reason to be on Oregon University property, you do what they have done: ignore regulations. If the OUS feels free to pay no attention to the clear direction of the Oregon Courts, any rational person would pay no attention to their unlawful regulations.

If you are a CHL holder, carry your self-defense tool.

What he is no doubt hoping for is another incident like the one that started their initial lawsuit so he can waste tens of thousands of more dollars of their donors' money (and fund his own paid position, while he's at it).  Let's hope no one is stupid enough to listen to him, but if they do, I urge O.F.F. to try another lawsuit.  It will be yet another tremendous waste of their resources for a policy which doesn't actually represent the views of students and faculty they purport to represent.

Don't let the gun extremists determine our legislative priorities!  This is a win for common sense gun regulation at Oregon universities, but there is so much more to do to protect our community.

I'll leave you with this revealing quote:

"First, we believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America's schools, period ... with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel."

--Wayne LaPierre, NRA Executive Vice President, speech to their 1999 Annual Meeting