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Bill Aims To Boost Campus Security

SALEM -- An Oregon lawmaker announced last week a bill to allow university security officers, including those at Western Oregon, to carry firearms.

SALEM -- An Oregon lawmaker announced last week a bill to allow university security officers, including those at Western Oregon, to carry firearms.

Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) is sponsoring House Bill 3070. Thatcher said the proposed measure would let public universities have the option of training and arming their campus security personnel in a Feb. 27 news release.

It is "essentially, becoming police officers," Thatcher wrote. "It would also enhance their ability to enforce the laws we currently have to combat crime."

The Oregon University System (OUS) prohibits firearms on the campuses of its seven member institutions, even for school security personnel.

The Legislative Assembly examined a bill that would have granted similar rights -- HB 3318 -- in 2007. A key difference, however, was that it required security officers to be armed. That bill eventually died in the Senate.

Thatcher is also co-sponsoring another piece of legislation (HB 3071) with Rep. Jeff Barker (D-Aloha) to give officers more authority to enforce state laws.

Both bills are expected to be officially introduced and posted on the Legislature's Web site after press time.

The proposals come at a time when Western is still dealing with fallout over the case involving student Jeffrey Maxwell. The 30-year-old from Lebanon was suspended last month until the end of the school year for bringing a pistol on campus.

A school judicial affairs panel handed out the sanction, even though Maxwell had a concealed handgun license to carry the weapon and wasn't charged with a crime. A rally by gun activists group in support of Maxwell was held at the State Capitol on Feb. 27.

Thatcher had publicly criticized OUS following Maxwell's suspension in early February, and called for the removal of administrative rules that might infringe on the rights of gun owners.

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