Oregon Appeals Court strikes down unlawful campus gun ban

by Kevin Starrett

Yesterday, after several years of legal maneuvering, the Oregon Appeals Court decided that the rules the Oregon University System has had in place to ban lawful carry of firearms on their property are invalid.

The opinion reaffirmed what we have always held to be true. The law is the law.

This is a very important day for gun rights in Oregon. Our Educational Foundation brought this suit after Jeffery Maxwell, a Marine Corps veteran, was unlawfully arrested on the campus of Western Oregon University while in possession of a handgun for which he had an Oregon concealed handgun license.

WOU’s outrageous abuses of Maxwell are well documented, and now we have at least some vindication.

Looking at the response of the school system, it is clear that they will do all in their power to circumvent the decision of the court, and we are confident that this battle is by no means over. But today’s ruling is clearly a victory for gun owners, a victory for the Oregon Firearms Educational Foundation, and most of all, a victory for every one of you who stood by us, and, by your extraordinary generosity, allowed us to see this through. To each of you, we offer our thanks and gratitude.

Of course, there will be the predictable response by some of the more extreme anti-rights politicians, so we need to prepare for the up coming battles, but for now, congratulate yourselves on a hard-earned victory.

We also want to thank those in the legislature who stood up for the rights of Oregonians as this issue played out.

Below is the most important part of today’s decision.

Although the State Board of Higher Education is an arm of the state, it is not the Legislative Assembly. And while, as noted, the State Board of Higher Education has general authority to control and manage its property, ORS 351.060, and to enact administrative rules, ORS 351.070(4)(b), no argument can be reasonably made that OAR 580-022-0045(3)–which regulates the very subject expressly preempted by ORS 166.170(1)–was “expressly authorized” by the Legislative Assembly. See ORS 166.170(1). Therefore, we conclude that OAR 580-022-0045(3) is an exercise of an “authority to regulate” firearms that is not expressly authorized by the Legislative Assembly, and that it is preempted by ORS 166.170(1).1 Accordingly, the rule exceeds the agency’s authority, ORS 183.400(4)(b), and is invalid.

OAR 580-022-0045(3) held invalid.