Guns prohibited on campus

Following the Jan. 14 incident in which economics professor John Hall accused a student of carrying a gun on campus, many have asked for clarification of the campus weapons policy.

Following the Jan. 14 incident in which economics professor John Hall accused a student of carrying a gun on campus, many have asked for clarification of the campus weapons policy.

According to university administration, weapons are not allowed on campus, and the definition of weapons was recently expanded by the university to include Tasers. This prohibition is congruent with Oregon University System guidelines, but possibly in contradiction of state laws.

Michael Soto, chief of the Campus Public Safety Office, says that weapons such as guns are not allowed on campus, even with an Oregon Concealed Handgun License. Any students who wish to report someone for carrying a weapon on campus should file a complaint with CPSO, according to PSU administration—including President Wim Wiewel.

“You have all the rights and privileges of a permit,” Soto said.

However, if it’s reported to CPSO that a person has a gun on campus, officers may ask them to turn over their weapon or to leave campus.

“Though you cannot be arrested for having a weapon,” Soto said.

If the person with a gun does not leave or turn over the weapon, they can be arrested for trespassing or for brandishing the weapon if someone else sees it, because it is illegal to show a weapon that is supposed to be concealed.

The standards to obtain an Oregon CHL are rigorous and being charged with trespassing or brandishing can cause holders to lose their license, Soto said.

Though CPSO does not maintain storage for weapons, there is a safe into which weapons can be placed on a temporary basis if needed. Soto said only a handful of people are cited every year for weapons violations on campus.

In an open letter written by Soto in April 2007, he says, “Portland State University buildings are defined as public buildings, therefore all students, faculty, staff and members of the public should know that it is against the law to possess a firearm on Portland State University campus, buildings or grounds. Any students, faculty, staff or members of the public that bring weapons onto campus will be subject to discipline and possible criminal prosecution.”

 According to state law, outlined in Oregon Revised Statute 166.170, the authority to regulate rules regarding firearms rests solely with the Oregon Legislature.

The law also states in ORS 166.370 that carrying firearms in public school buildings is illegal except for those who are licensed to carry a concealed handgun as outlined in ORS 166.291 and 166.292.

Oregon Revised Statute 166.170
“Except as expressly authorized by state statute, the authority to regulate in any matter whatsoever the sale, acquisition, transfer, ownership, possession, storage, transportation or use of firearms or any element relating to firearms and components thereof, including ammunition, is vested solely in the Legislative Assembly.”

Oregon Revised Statute 166.370 

“Possession of firearm or dangerous weapon in public building or court facility; exceptions; discharging firearm at school (…) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (5) of this section, a person who is licensed under ORS 166.291 and 166.292 to carry a concealed handgun.”

Oregon Administrative Rule 580.022.0045
“Possession or use of firearms, explosives, dangerous chemicals, or other dangerous weapons or instrumentalities on institutionally owned or controlled property, unless expressly authorized by law, [the State Board of Higher Education], or institutional rules (for purposes of this section, absence of criminal penalties shall not be considered express authorization).”