Monday, April 02, 2007

On-Campus Gun Ban Didn’t Save UW Domestic Violence Victim

The University of Washington suffered a tragic loss today when a campus employee was gunned down by her domestic violence abuser. She apparently had a restraining order (RO) to protect her along with a university administrative rule banning guns at her workplace (the university).

When representing domestic violence victims, I always instruct them that ROs don’t make them bullet proof and criminals don’t always follow the law. While ROs and the criminal statutes protect most people from most perpetrators, they don’t protect victims from the worst offenders—those intending to do harm regardless of the consequences. I recall this being evident in at least three of the recent Lane County domestic violence murders where all the perpetrators had protective orders against them.

Washington’s campus gun ban differs from Oregon law. Washington bans firearms on campus even when a person has a lawful concealed carry license. A person can apply for an exception to that rule through the university chief of police. An official at the University Police Department stated that the person needs a good reason to get approval.

Considering the seriousness given to domestic violence these days, one could assume that this victim could have successfully pursued this. However, this exception likely only applies to those aware of a potential personal threat, leaving unaware coworkers without the means of protecting themselves and others.

Oregon on the other hand does not allow campuses to make administrative rules restricting the right to possess a firearm when you have a concealed carry permit. That authority is vested solely in the state legislature. This means campuses including universities and school districts cannot regulate the possession of firearms without a statute permitting such action. Currently no such mechanism exists; hopefully it will stay that way considering virtually all campus gun violence is perpetrated by criminals without a conceal carry permit.

Because of this Oregon legislative preemption, Oregonians have a greater chance of a law-abiding citizen at their campus workplace carrying a firearm. I often wonder how the outcome of campus violence would differ if districts and universities actively encouraged concealed carry permit holders to exercise that right. Perhaps that would be the difference between a defenseless situation at the UW and a less tragic outcome.

ORS 166.170 State preemption. (1) Except as expressly authorized by state statute, the authority to regulate in any matter whatsoever the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, storage, transportation or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition, is vested solely in the Legislative Assembly.
(2) Except as expressly authorized by state statute, no county, city or other municipal corporation or district may enact civil or criminal ordinances, including but not limited to zoning ordinances, to regulate, restrict or prohibit the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, storage, transportation or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition. Ordinances that are contrary to this subsection are void.
C. Michael Arnold,
Attorney at Law
Eugene, Oregon
http://www.arnoldlawfirm.com/

3 comments:

Sean said...

ORS 166.170 State preemption. (1) Except as expressly authorized by state statute, the authority to regulate in any matter whatsoever the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, storage, transportation or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition, is vested solely in the Legislative Assembly.
(2) Except as expressly authorized by state statute, no county, city or other municipal corporation or district may enact civil or criminal ordinances, including but not limited to zoning ordinances, to regulate, restrict or prohibit the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, storage, transportation or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition. Ordinances that are contrary to this subsection are void.

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I am a little confused. So, does this mean that your Apartment Complex cannot dictate that you cannot possess any firearms in the building? Also, does it mean that you are not legally barred from carrying a firearm onto a School grounds (with the appropriate concealed weapons permit)? I seem to see inconsistancies with the ordinance, and with the existing laws regarding carryign concealed firearms.

Zak J. said...

Sean,
No, you're not barred from carrying on school grounds if you have a CHL. But can you think of any cases where a school shooting was done by someone with a CHL? CHLs on campus aren't part of the national problem with violent crime on school grounds and CHL holders--who go through rigorous background checks--represent one of the lowest-risk groups there is for violent behavior.

Jason McKerr said...

I would like to clarify here a little. There is currently a dispute on campus carry that needs to be mentioned here, I think.

Currently, there is an administrative rule put in place by the Chancellor of the Oregon University System that DOES state you CAN NOT carry on Oregon University System (OUS) Campuses.

The Oregon Firearms Federation challenged this in court, but was found to lack standing. (Stubbs v Oregon). Here is a brief editorial Daily Emerald