New University of Colorado policies banning guns in residences flouts Colorado Supreme Court ruling, state law
The University of Colorado is once again violating the constitutional and statutory rights of students (and violating state law) with recently-announced policies imposing a ban on permitted concealed-carry of guns at some CU facilities:
In what it calls a contractual matter between landlord and tenant, the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs is putting freshman housing off-limits to concealed carry permits and also will ban permitted guns from large campus events.
University of Colorado’s Boulder campus announced Thursday that it will bar guns from undergraduate residence halls and provide designated off-campus housing for those hoping to bring their weapons to the university.
The University of Colorado administration’s attempt to re-label the renewed CU Gun Ban as a mere “contractual matter” is a transparent attempt to end-run a recent Colorado Supreme Court ruling affirming the universal applicability of a state-issued concealed-carry permit – striking down CU’s earlier campus-wide comprehensive gun ban.
Unfortunately for CU’s attempt to circumvent state law via the too-clever-by-far mechanism of declaring the gun ban a “contractual matter between landlord and tenant,” as a state-supported institution governed by an elected Board of Regents, the University is not just a private “landlord” but is a quasi-public accommodation, subject to state law. Additionally, as noted in a previous guest commentary on this site (CU Regents Unwise to Consider Residence Hall Gun Ban),
The courts do tend to take a dim view of those who try to squash fundamental rights.
The line of argument pursued by the CU administration with the new policies of implementing a gun ban via “contractual” forfeiture of a fundamental legal right is deeply troubling, and would set a disturbing precedent if upheld in the inevitable legal challenge(s) to the CU Gun Ban policies. If a government agency or institution can obligate citizens to contractually “sign away” their rights otherwise obtaining under state law and/or the constitution, do those rights actually exist in any meaningful sense?
The casual disregard for this fundamental principle breezily displayed by CU’s chief legal counsel is also disturbing:
“Ultimately, I’m not going to say that the issue won’t have to be resolved by the courts.”
So yes, the CU administration is basically daring students to sue for their constitutional and statutory rights; let’s hope that someone takes them up on that challenge. It will be a costly proposition for the University (which the cash-strapped CU system can ill afford), but since the current CU Board of Regents refused to exercise their oversight authority to prevent it (“punting” to chancellors rather than providing guidance or policy direction at the April board meeting)
The authority to implement residence hall gun policies, the university stated in the release, was delegated to the chancellors at CU-Boulder by the Colorado Board of Regents last spring.
the University of Colorado will once again be wasting tuition and taxpayer dollars in court.
the Colorado Supreme Court was very clear in its ruling that you cannot regulate concealed carry in any way that conflicts with state law.
CU’s Gun Ban policies needlessly endanger the safety of students, staff, faculty, and visitors by putting them at greater risk of criminal predation, as ”gun free zone” = “target-rich environment” for criminals.
Allowing responsible adults to exercise a fundamental constitutional right – affirming the right of licensed adult concealed-carry permit holders to responsibly exercise their inherent right of armed 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.