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Parting Shots Fired In Gun Ban Response

SALEM -- Lawmakers criticized leaders of the state's public universities just before the conclusion of the 2009 Oregon Legislature session for a "non-response" to a request that schools end

SALEM -- Lawmakers criticized leaders of the state's public universities just before the conclusion of the 2009 Oregon Legislature session for a "non-response" to a request that schools end bans on legally concealed firearms.

The issue stems from the February expulsion from Western Oregon University of Jeffrey Maxwell, who was arrested on campus for carrying a handgun on campus, said Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) in a release.

No criminal charges were filed against Maxwell, who had a concealed weapons permit.

The Maxwell incident has drawn widespread criticism from firearm advocates, and touched off a debate over whether university gun bans violate state law.

Higher education institutions cite administrative rules as their authority.

Thirty-four state representatives and senators signed a June 18 letter to the Oregon University System urging a revision to rules preventing concealed handgun owners from having guns on campus.

OUS legal counsel Ryan Hagemann said in a June 30 response he had been advised by the Oregon Department of Justice to await the outcome of a pending concealed weapon case involving a Medford school teacher before pursuing a resolution.

"Fundamentally, though, OUS and the State Board of Higher Education believe that our campuses are safer without firearms," Hagemann wrote.

Thatcher called the answer a "non-response" and said state law already permits concealed license holders to have guns at school.

"Their ability to conduct themselves properly does not end the moment they cross the property line of a college," she said. "I would hate to see further legal action, but that may be the only remedy for some of the parties at this point."

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