Friday, June 27, 2008

Heller and universities 

Following onto yesterday's post, I note this article (permalink for Chronicle of Higher Education subscribers) that quotes university officials thinking the Heller decision on gun bans has left the door open to finding campus gun bans unconstitutional.
In elaborating on the decision, Justice Scalia wrote that the "court's opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings."

On the surface, that sentence appears to protect the policies of colleges and universities that prohibit students from carrying guns on campus, said [lawyer] Mr. [Robert] Clayton.

However, the Supreme Court ruling might leave open the possibility that a campus ban on firearms might be challenged on the basis that a particular campus was not a "sensitive" environment, he explained.

The word "school" is often interpreted to mean an elementary school or high school, so one line of reasoning goes that we can't be sure this is supposed to apply to colleges and universities. Another issue is where the school is located.
Even if they remain in place, campus gun bans may be less effective if cities are not allowed to enact tight gun controls, said Mr. White, because the majority of shootings involving students in urban settings occur not on college property but in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Would it be unreasonable to ask that universities keep a lockbox at the edge of campus (at a few different locations) so students would be able to pick up their firearms as they walked home from campus, even while continuing to ban them on campus? Does the Court intend to differentiate between rural campuses and urban, and if so how?

I sincerely doubt the higher education establishment will give up campus gun bans without a fight; I end up agreeing with this article that there is an invitation by the Court to bring the fight to them.

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