Students for Concealed Carry and another gun-rights group have filed a civil suit in state court against Ohio State University, alleging that the school’s anti-gun policy is so breathtaking in its scope that it is illegal under state law.
The gun-rights advocates say the policy bans students from carrying firearms when they aren’t even on Ohio State’s campus, reports Reason.
The plaintiffs concede that Ohio State bureaucrats can generally prevent students from possessing guns on campus. Their grievance is that university policy prohibits students from having guns when they are involved in official Ohio State-related activities that occur off campus. They say this rule is blatantly illegal.
School policy also prevents students from leaving guns in their locked cars. Such a policy is illegal, lawyers for Students for Concealed Carry argue, because state law specifically allows students to leave guns in their locked vehicles.
“The Ohio Revised Code is clear that the legislature retains sole authority to regulate the possession of firearms,” said Derek DeBrosse, an attorney for the plaintiffs, in a statement obtained by Reason. “Ohio State’s policies are in direct violation of the law.”
Zachary Zalneraitis, public relations director at Students for Concealed Carry noted that schools that have allowed concealed carry haven’t experienced any uptick in shootings.
“Universities typically did not allow concealed carry in the past, but in the places where it has been implemented, we haven’t seen the doom and gloom,” he told Reason.
Ohio State officials have remained adamantly opposed to changing the rules, however. Back in 2012, for example, then-president (now president emeritus) E. Gordon Gee insisted that the school would never allow law-abiding students to carry guns.
“But I’m in charge and we’re not going to do it,” Gee said, according to the lawsuit. “I have looked at these issues very, very carefully. It is not in the interest of a great university whereabouts, the ideas of allowing guns.”
At issue in the lawsuit are two conflicting state laws.
One of them, titled in part “Right to bear arms” states:
Except as specifically provided by the United States Constitution, Ohio Constitution, state law, or federal law, a person, without further license, permission, restriction, delay, or process, may own, possess, purchase, sell, transfer, transport, store, or keep any firearm, part of a firearm, its components, and its ammunition.
A second law is Ohio’s “Code of Student Conduct,” which is part of the Ohio Administrative Code. It prohibits:
Storage or possession of dangerous weapons, devices, or substances including, but not limited to, firearms, ammunition, or fireworks, unless authorized by an appropriate university official or permitted by a university policy, even if otherwise permitted by law. Use or misuse of weapons, devices, or substances in a manner that causes or threatens serious harm to the safety or security of others.
The current trial date for the lawsuit is slated for July 2015.