Apr 152010
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

Less than a day after the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners association filed a lawsuit against CSU’s concealed carry ban, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that a similar ban at CU-Boulder was in blatant violation of state law.

Dudley Brown, director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners association, RMGO, said CSU was banking on CU’s court-approved gun ban to justify its own policy. But now that the courts have ruled in favor Thursday of CU’s branch of Students for Concealed Carry that the ban violated the Colorado Constitution and the Concealed Carry Act, he said CSU doesn’t have “one leg to stand on.”

“That’s all out the window now,” he said. “This only strengthens our case.”

When asked how the university would handle RMGO’s complaint, CSU System Board of Governors spokesperson Michele McKinney released a statement saying the board was not yet aware of the lawsuit but plans to review the decision to ban concealed carry “in light of today’s ruling.”

The CU ruling revives a suit dismissed last spring by El Paso County District Judge G. David Miller, who said nothing in Colorado’s constitution stops CU from instituting the ban, which has been in place since 1994. Thursday’s ruling will send the case back to Miller’s lower court for re-evaluation.

In its ruling, the appeals court referred to a Colorado statute allowing concealed carry except in specific areas regulated by federal law and on K-12 school property. Other areas that prohibit concealed weapons must follow a set of strict security guidelines.

These criteria are:
Constant weapons checks at all buildings in the area where concealed carry is banned,
Every person using buildings in the said area must be screened, and
Security personnel have to hold the weapons of permit holders while said permit holder is in the restricted building.

“Had the legislature intended to exempt universities, it knew how to do so,” the court document said.

Jim Manley, attorney for CU Students for Concealed Carry, said the complaint regarding the CU Board of Regent’s violated the Colorado Constitution by keeping permit-holding students and faculty from having firearms in the car on campus.

The RMGO’s CSU suit started brewing Feb. 23 when the BOG approved policies drawn up by CSU President Tony Frank and CSU-Pueblo President Joe Garcia implementing a system-wide ban, providing few exemptions for military personnel and police officers.

CSU’s policy 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.

RMGO lists CSU Students for Concealed Carry and three campus permit holders as plaintiffs in a suit against Frank and every member of the BOG.

Thursday’s appeals court decision said, while the CU governing board maintains that the board is not statutorily restricted by the Concealed Carry Act from adopting and implementing its policy, the judges “were not persuaded.”

“The CCA prohibits local governments from adopting or enforcing regulations that conflict with the CCA,” the court said, adding that the CU governing board’s argument that the statue doesn’t explicitly mention their inability to make policies is a “logical fallacy.”

David Ambrose, who coauthored a piece of student government legislation urging CSU to keep campus gun-friendly, said the ruling is a step in the right direction and will only help RMGO in the courtroom.

President-elect for the Associated Students of CSU Cooper Anderson also worked on the legislation and said he is glad the courts sided with students this time. He is eager to work with administration to make campus as safe as possible.

While the Court of Appeals’ decision only binds CU because its policy is worded differently than CSU’s, Manley said the court will likely come to the same decision for CSU’s case.

“CSU’s policy has never been enforced, so we don’t know how it will look on the ground. But it looks like it will function the same despite technical differences in the wording,” he said.

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

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