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Ous Uses Policy To Ban Campus Guns

SALEM -- The state board of Higher Education unanimously approved on Friday a policy that bans guns on Oregon's public university campuses.

SALEM -- The state board of Higher Education unanimously approved on Friday a policy that bans guns on Oregon's public university campuses.

The new rule forces individuals who do business on school grounds to agree not to carry firearms while there. That includes students, employees, vendors, people attending sporting or other events, and renters.

The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled last year that OUS didn't have the authority to prohibit somebody with a concealed-handgun license from carrying a gun on school grounds, as only the Legislature has such broad powers.

"Once our rule was invalidated, we felt we needed to move forward in terms of student safety, so they could concentrate on their education and not weather somebody sitting next to them in class is armed," said Di Saunders, OUS spokeswoman.

OUS legal staff said in a report to the higher ed board that the courts did recognize that universities have broad authority to control their own properties.

Administrative rules were revised to comply with the ruling removing the "firearms" reference and to implement an internal policy that regulates firearms in "sensitive places."

Buildings, sports and performance venues and any campus workplaces are gun-prohibited zones, regardless if the person possesses a concealed-handgun license.

There are exceptions for law enforcement, ROTC and military programs and those individuals who live in non-campus homes.

OUS's provision came a day after the Oregon Senate voted against a controversial bill that would have prohibited guns from being on university and K-12 campuses.

Saunders said individuals with some connection to the community could be sanctioned under internal rules -- such as a student conduct code or employee contract.

"Somebody walking across a campus property, we wouldn't have the ability to control unless they went into a building," she said.

The Oregon Firearms Federation sued OUS over its gun policies. OFF executive director Kevin Starrett said in a press release that university leaders were circumventing last year's legal ruling.

"By doing so, they have put their staff and their students in danger," Starrett wrote. "We strongly recommend that if you have any reason to be on Oregon university property, you do what they have done: ignore regulations ... if you are a CHL holder, carry your self-defense tool."

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