By unanimous vote, Oregon’s State Board of Higher Education decided on Friday to ban guns on the campuses of its seven state universities. The ban goes into effect immediately and means that those seeking to do business on university property cannot carry guns in classrooms, university buildings and dormitories and at sporting and entertainment events, says Oregon Live. Not only must students, employees and contractors adhere to the ban; those buying tickets to university events or renting university property must do so, too.
The police does make exceptions for police, military programs such as the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, residents of noncampus housing and hunting or target shooting clubs. The ban does not prevent those with a concealed weapons permit from walking across a state university campus; they will not, though, be permitted to enter university buildings or arenas. Punishment for those who violate the policy will vary. Students violators would be disciplined according to a conduct code, while employees could face disciplinary action and contractors, a charge of breach of contract.
Phillip Zerzan, public safety director at Portland State University and formerly in charge of an Oregon State Police area including Oregon State University, spoke bluntly about the need for the policy:
“I’ve witnessed the finality that firearms bring. There are no policies, therapies or do-overs that can repair the damage caused by a gun shot wound.”
Zerzan particularly noted the dangers that could occur if students who are “suicidal, angry, under mental strain or drinking at parties” had access to guns.
On Thursday, Oregon’s Senate had rejected Senate Bill 1594, which would have prevented people from carrying guns on a school or college campus. The Oregon higher education board’s policy thus “blunts a victory for gun rights advocates.”
In light of the deadly school shooting last week in Chardon, Ohio — not to mention the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy and a more recent incident involving guns — the Oregon higher education board’s policy is not only sound but simply necessary and will, it is hoped, serve as an impetus for legislators to pass laws banning people from carrying guns on any school or college campus in the state.
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