Gun rights advocates are celebrating victory after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in favor of three former students and a limited liability company that was formed specifically to fight campus bans on concealed weapons.
Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, LLC, a Texas limited liability company and individual students Martha Altman, Eric Mote and John Davis filed a complaint against the University of Colorado Board of Regents, in Dec. 2008, asking that the ban on carrying concealed weapons be lifted.
They said they wanted to standardize rules on the issue.
The lower court, in El Paso County, dismissed the case saying that the state law (allowing concealed carry) did not apply to the Regents.
The Court of Appeals disagreed and reinstated the case.
Now, the Supreme Court has weighed in and agreed with the Court of Appeals.
In a unanimous decision, the high court ruled that the ban on concealed carry was illegal because it was not approved by the legislature.
Im ecstatic, Altman said. My comment on Facebook this morning, after I got the email, was WE WON! in all capital letters.
Altman told 7NEWS that she took part in the legal action for two reasons.
One, I felt the Regents overstepped their bounds, and two, for safety, she said.
Altman, who works on the Anschutz Campus, said shed often have to park her car then walk a quarter of a mile to get to work.
At 5 a.m., in this part of town, it was a little bit scary, she said.
CU officials are taking the ruling in stride.
Obviously its a significant change to how our campus environment has been, up to now, said CUs Vice President of Communications, Ken McConnellogue.
McConnellogue said, The ban was put into place in 1970 because the Regents, back then, felt it was most conducive to the environment they were trying to promote.
But concealed carry bans became a hot topic after the Virginia Tech massacre, where a gunman killed 32 people and injured 23 others before taking his own life in 2007.
Opponents of the ban said armed students might have prevented the massacre.
This is an issue nationally, McConnellogue said. Not just in Colorado.
The CU spokesman added, Whether guns on campus are a good thing or a bad thing is a debate that certainly we can have. But our stance has been that the Regents, elected by the people of Colorado and determined by the constitution, are the best people to make that determination.
Attorney Jim Manley of the Mountain States Legal Foundation represented the three students. He called the Supreme Court ruling, A great victory for gun rights and for civil rights in general.
It shows that the Regents are not above the law, he said, and that constitutional rights do not start and stop at the edge of a university campus.
Manley said his clients will now ask the lower court to stop the Regents from enforcing their ban.
When asked if she was concerned that some students might cause problems with guns on campus, Altman replied, Everyone I know that has a concealed carry permit does what they can to protect that. Its not the drunk frat boys that have them.
Manley noted that Colorado State University has allowed concealed carry guns on campus since 2003.
There have been no safety issues, he said. No issues with students being frightened because a gun slips out of someones pocket. Nothing. Nothing has happened to suggest that concealed carry on campus isnt totally safe.
Under state law, only those 21 or older who pass a background check and are granted a permit from their local sheriff can carry a concealed weapon on campus.
Colorado's Concealed Carry Act prohibits local governments from limiting concealed carry rights. The only exceptions are K-12 schools, places where federal law bans the practice, public buildings with metal detectors, and private property where owners object to concealed weapons.
The ruling covers about 30 public universities, colleges and community colleges in Colorado.
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