Two bills recently went in front of the Oregon House Higher Education Committee that have the ability to allow or prohibit the right to carry a concealed firearm on college campuses in Oregon.
Two bills recently went in front of the Oregon House Higher Education Committee that have the ability to allow or prohibit the right to carry a concealed firearm on college campuses in
In 2011, the court of appeals overturned the Oregon University System’s ban of firearms on campus, stating that only the Legislature had the power to do this.
OUS does however have the right to control its buildings and properties as well
as those in a certain relationship with them. So in March 2012, OUS set in place a new firearm policy.
Diane Saunders, OUS’s director of communications, said making sure students feel safe in their environment on campus is a top priority.
“Our job is to make sure our students are as safe as possible, and we feel confident that the policies in place are the best way to do that,” she said.
The policy currently in effect prohibits anyone with a contractual relationship with any university or college in Oregon from carrying a firearm on university-owned or controlled property, regardless of whether they have a concealed carry permit.
Saunders explained that this contractual relationship includes students, faculty, staff, vendors and even visitors who pay to attend an event on one of the campuses.
“We feel it’s very important to ensure student safety to the best extent we can, and so the policy applies to everyone we have a relationship with,” Saunders said.
The exceptions to the policy include on-duty law enforcement officers, public safety personnel and military program participants.
Also, citizens who have their concealed handgun license, are not in a contractual relationship with the university and are walking through campus but not on property owned or controlled by the university are able to carry firearms.
“Allowing [the ability to] carry concealed firearms [on campus] would take us backwards in terms of student safety and an appropriate learning environment for students,” Saunders said.
Phil Zerzan, the Portland State’s Campus Public Safety Office chief, said that finding the best way to keep a university environment safe for students can be difficult.
“The topic of guns [on campus] is a very divisive issue, and universities are struggling to navigate this divisiveness while keeping universities a safe place to learn,” he said.
PSU and OUS firearms policy can be found on CPSO’s website at pdx.edu/cpso/firearm-policy.