Civil Liberties

Breaking: Students Sue OSU Over Crazy Illegal Campus Gun Ban

Public universities can't trump state law and establish even stricter anti-gun policies.


Victor Grigas / Wikimedia Commons

Students for Concealed Carry, a gun rights group, is suing Ohio State University for maintaining an illegally broad anti-gun policy that prevents students from carrying guns even when they aren't on campus property—a violation of state law, according to the group.

State law prohibits students from carrying guns on college campuses. SFCC isn't fighting that. But the law specifically permits students to bring their guns onto campus as long as they leave them locked in their cars. OSU's student handbook, however, forbids students from bringing guns onto campus at all, even if the weapons are left behind in locked cars, and even "if otherwise permitted by state law."

Lawyers representing the two groups, SFCC and Ohioans for Concealed Carry, say public universities can't trump state law and establish even stricter anti-gun policies.

"The Ohio Revised Code is clear that the legislature retains sole authority to regulate the possession of firearms," said Derek DeBrosse, one of the two lawyers representing the groups, in a statement. "Ohio State's policies are in direct violation of the law."

The discrepancies between state law and OSU's gun policies are not trivial. Under state law, students who drive to campus through dangerous neighborhoods have the right to bring firearms with them for protection, as long as they leave their guns in their cars. OSU's handbook makes this impossible, however.

Students are also forbidden under OSU policy from possessing guns while engaged in official university activities, even if those activities take place off campus.

In implementing such a strict anti-gun policy, OSU administrators—utilizing the bad logic of "gun free zones," i.e., zones where potential victims are guaranteed to be unarmed—believed they were somehow keeping their students safer. But Zachary Zalneraitis, director of public relations at SFCC, said that stripping students of even the most basic ability to defend themselves doesn't make anyone safer.

"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 that [administrators] predicted," he told Reason.

The court date is set for July of 2015.