Colorado Supreme Court upholds Colorado Court of Appeals rejection of CU Gun Ban
The Colorado Supreme Court rightly rejected the specious argument advanced by the attorney for the CU Board of Regents (which voted 5-4 to appeal the Colorado Court of Appeals rejection of CU Gun Ban), who argued that the CU Board has “constitutional authority” to “enact legislation governing the campus” – essentially, putting the CU Board of Regents “above the law” of the state of Colorado.
The supreme court holds that the Concealed Carry Act’s comprehensive statewide purpose, broad language, and narrow exclusions show that the General Assembly intended to divest the Board of Regents of its authority to regulate concealed handgun possession on campus. Accordingly, the supreme court agrees with the court of appeals that, by alleging the Policy violates the CCA, the Students for Concealed Carry on Campus have stated a claim for relief. Because the supreme court affirms on statutory grounds, it does not consider the Students’ constitutional claim.
The court upheld the Colorado Court of Appeals April 2010 ruling that the CU gun ban policy violates “the clear letter and intent of the statute authorizing statewide standards and universal application for concealed-carry permits:”
(1) (a) A permit to carry a concealed handgun authorizes the permittee to carry a concealed handgun in all areas of the state, except as specifically limited in this section.
The Colorado Court of Appeals could not have been more clear in upholding that view, and went further in upholding the constitutional right of Colorado citizens to bear arms in self-defense:
Because the statute expressly applies to “all areas of the state,” we conclude that plaintiffs have stated a claim for relief under the CCA. We further conclude that plaintiffs have stated a claim for relief under Colorado Constitution article II, section 13, which affords individuals the right to bear arms in self-defense.
Interestingly, the Colorado Supreme Court chose not to address the claims for relief under Colorado Constitution article II, section 13, (which affirms an individual right to bear arms in self-defense) – leaving the Court of Appeals ruling on the constitutional right intact while avoiding giving that language the imprimatur of a Colorado Supreme Court ruling.
The courts – both the Colorado Supreme Court in Monday’s ruling, and the Colorado Court of Appeals in its more sweeping April 2010 ruling were right on the law, and reinforced the right policy, too.
There is NO compelling state interest to bar responsible adults (Colorado CCW permits can only be obtained by people 21 years or older, with a clean criminal and mental health background check passed, who obtain training in both physical and legal aspects of using firearms) the exercise of a fundamental right.
From a “safety” standpoint, barring guns from college campuses places students, staff, faculty, and visitors at greater risk of criminal predation, as “gun free zone” equals “target-rich environment” for criminals.
Further, there has been NO documented instance of a concealed-carry permit holder misusing firearms on any Colorado college campus, as noted in the amicus brief filed by the Colorado sheriffs opposing the CU Gun Ban.
Allowing responsible adults to exercise a fundamental constitutional right – affirming the right of licensed concealed-carry permit holders to responsibly exercise their inherent right of self-defense – is not only good law, it is good policy.
Clear The Bench Colorado will, with your support, continue to promote transparency and accountability in the Colorado judiciary, informing the public to increase awareness of the substantial public policy implications of an unrestrained activism and political agendas in the courts. We will continue to work to educate voters and provide information of relevance related to the judicial branch, and to provide useful and substantive evaluations of judicial performance.
Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.