DENVER (AP) – The Colorado Supreme Court sided Monday with opponents of a campus gun ban who claimed the prohibition is illegal because it was not approved by the Legislature.
Opponents of the gun ban said the University of Colorado rule was challenged as part of a nationwide effort to standardize rules on the issue.
“We don’t feel some campuses should allow it and others ban it,” said David Burnett, spokesman for Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a nationwide student advocacy group that filed the lawsuit.
The ruling covers about 30 public universities, colleges and community colleges in Colorado.
Burnett said about 220 campuses in other states, including Mississippi, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, have laws that provide limited authority for students to carry guns on campuses, and Oregon is considering the issue.
The Colorado high court cited widespread inconsistencies among jurisdictions as one of the reasons for its ruling.
Kyle Hybl, chairman of the Board of Regents, said the ruling stripped the university of its right to make its own rules.
“We have constitutional and statutory authority to protect the health, welfare and safety of students,” Hybl said after Monday’s ruling. “This case was less about firearms than the constitutional and statutory rights of the Board of Regents.”
Patrick O’Rourke, representing the University of Colorado, also said the policy was necessary and cited a shooting at Virginia Tech where a gunman killed 32 people and wounded 23 before killing himself in 2007.
Opponents said armed students might have prevented the massacre. Colorado’s Concealed Carry Act prohibits local governments from limiting concealed carry rights, with the only exceptions being K-12 schools, places where federal law bans the practice, public buildings with metal detectors, and private property where owners object to concealed weapons.
Opponents of the campus ban said lawmakers would have listed universities as exceptions in the law passed in 2003 if they wanted guns banned on campus.
Dudley Brown, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Association, which argued against the campus gun ban, said Colorado State University and community colleges rescinded their bans in 2010, citing a lower court ruling.
Richard Westfall, an attorney for the National Rifle Association, which joined the lawsuit, said the Supreme Court ruling will take effect at the end of the month unless the university can persuade the court it made a mistake. Hybl said the university will follow the final ruling.
Westfall said lawmakers approved a statewide law allowing people with permits to carry guns because some communities allowed it while others refused. He said gun owners wanted a uniform law to avoid arrest.
– By Steven K. Paulson, AP Writer
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