Jan 262010
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

If the CSU System Board Of Governors sticks to its guns and approves a policy banning concealed weapons on campus, the university could have a $50,000 lawsuit coming down the barrel.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Second Amendment lobbyist group, is working with a local law firm to fight what RMGO Director Dudley Brown calls “a no brainer.”

“I’m still hoping (the university) will come to their senses,” legal counsel for RMGO Terry Ryan said, adding that the “aggressive” lobbyist group has a no-compromise policy when it comes to Second Amendment rights.

If, at its Feb. 23 meeting, the BOG approves the policy prohibiting concealed carry, Ryan said, he will be ready to file a complaint within days of the decision calling for the ban to be repealed.

The next step, he said, would be to apply for an injunction, which would halt all enforcement of the policy until the court ruled on the case.

The lawsuit started brewing in December following the BOG’s controversial demand that CSU President Tony Frank and CSU-Pueblo President Joe Garcia draft weapons policies enforcing a ban on concealed carry for each of their campuses.

The first draft of Frank’s policy, which has yet to be approved by his cabinet, would allow only police and members of the military to carry concealed weapons on campus.

The current draft mandates that any student, faculty or staff member caught in violation of the rule will face disciplinary action as outlined in the school’s conduct code.

As for campus guests or visitors, the draft states that any violators will be removed from campus and face possible trespassing charges.

But, throughout the heated debate over the legality of banning concealed carry at CSU, Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden has taken a firm stance that he will take no part in arresting or detaining valid permit holders violating any such ban.

In response to threat of lawsuit, CSU released an e-mail statement to the Collegian that said visitors in violation of the ban will be notified of the policy and asked to check his or her gun in with the CSU Police Department during his or her stay on campus.

Individuals who refuse to comply may be banned from campus, it says, but the statement makes no explicit mention of legal action against violators, a notable softening in language compared to the possible trespassing charges outlined in the current draft.

“CSU is playing chicken with groups who’ve played it many times before,” Brown said.

With budget cuts to Colorado’s higher education system looming, Brown said he’d like to know how the university will find the money to fight a lawsuit that he said he is positive it will lose.

“The law is already on our side,” Brown said. “Judges don’t really like a public entity writing a law.”

In its e-mail statement, CSU cites a state law that allows the university to “promulgate rules and regulations” that increase safety for the campus community and said creating and upholding a ban on concealed weapons falls under that law.

In an interview last week, however, Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, said a different state statute that regulates gun control in public buildings requires specific criteria be met in order for a ban to be legal.

These criteria are:

1.Constant weapons checks at all buildings in the area where concealed carry is banned,

2. Every person using buildings in the said area must be screened, and

3. Security personnel have to hold the weapons of permit holders while said permit holder is in the restricted building.

CSU’s current policy draft meets none of those criteria.

Late last semester, CSU student government passed a bill endorsing the university’s current policy allowing concealed carry and presented it to the BOG.

Senator David Ambrose, who drafted the bill, said in an e-mail that the board ignored student interest by asking for a new weapons policy and said he supports any action against the ban.

“A concealed carry lawsuit will be the only way for students to have a voice since the Board of Governors treats us like second class citizens,” Ambrose said.

Although the BOG is scheduled to evaluate the policy at its Feb. 23 meeting in Pueblo, the university is open to community suggestions and feedback until Friday.

If the board approves a policy prohibiting concealed carry, “that’s kind of the trigger (for the lawsuit),” Ryan said.

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:56 pm

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