Colorado Legislators Cover Their Own Asses – Leave Ours Hanging in the Wind
I had an occasion recently to discuss last year’s Colorado Supreme Court Decision ruling that the University of Colorado could not ban firearms from its campuses. The court came to this conclusion due to the specific language of a state statute barring any entity from passing policy or laws restricting a citizen’s right to carry a firearm in public.
At the time of this ruling there was a lot of outrage about it, particularly in light of the Columbine shootings at a public school. In discussing the subject with a friend, via email, I pointed out that unfortunately the Colorado Supreme Court had no choice regarding their ruling given the content and scope of current state law. In turn, he pointed out that legislators like to cover their own asses when it comes to firearm proliferation, while leaving everyone else’s hanging in the wind.
Below is his response:
Thanks for responding. You’re absolutely right about the decision, which is why the target has to be the law. Below is some info I wrote up for some local media on the issue. What I think is particularly telling is the fact that legislators always exempt their own workplace from weapons proliferation. Jan Brewer in AZ recently vetoed a concealed carry on campus bill because it would have allowed folks to carry around her in the state Capitol. That’s low! Anyways, thanks again and keep up the good work! -Chad In 2003, the Colorado legislature passed the Concealed Carry Act, which apparently did not exempt the jurisdiction of the University of Colorado campuses. The interpretation of the Board of Regents was that, given the power granted by the Colorado Constitution to make policy ensuring the health and safety of university employees and students, the weapons ban on campus could stand.
As the Supreme Court decision states: “The Board of Regents is granted broad authority by both the Colorado Constitution and statutes. The Colorado Constitution vests the Board with “the general supervision of [its] respective institutions and the exclusive control and direction of all funds of and appropriations to [its] respective institutions, unless otherwise provided by law.” Colo. Const. art. VIII, § 5. The General Assembly has authorized the Board to “enact laws for the government of the university,” § 23-20-112(1), C.R.S. (2011), and to “promulgate rules and regulations for the safety and welfare of students, employees, and property,” § 23-5-106(1), C.R.S. (2011). It is pursuant to this authority that the Board adopted and enforced the Policy” (pp. 10-11, ¶16).
The policy of the Board of Regents was, of course, to ban weapons from campus. Again, from the Supreme Court decision: “In justifying the Policy, the Board of Regents stated that firearm possession is “inconsistent with the academic mission of the [University of Colorado] and, in fact, undermines it”; “threatens the tranquility of the educational environment in an intimidating way”; and “contributes in an offensive manner to an unacceptable climate of violence’ (p. 5, ¶5).
Given the language of the CO Concealed Carry Act, however, the power to regulate firearms has been taken away from the Board of Regents, argued the CO Supreme Court: “…the CCA’s comprehensive statewide purpose, broad language, and narrow exclusions lead us to conclude that the General Assembly divested the Board of Regents of its authority in this instance. In other words, under article VIII, section 5 of the Colorado Constitution, the CCA “otherwise provide[s] by law.”
It is very important to keep in mind that this is not a Constitutional issue in general or a 2nd Amendment issue in particular. The Supreme Court did not rule in March of last year that students have a Constitutional right to concealed carry on campus, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Federal and State authorities have the right to regulate firearms.
My petition does not relate to the right of gun ownership, but is about an act legislative overreach—intended or not—which has usurped the power of the University of Colorado to regulate firearms on campus, resulting in a higher risk of gun violence in my campus community. In order to reestablish that reasonable, long-standing CU policy, I’m advocating for a change in Colorado law. Again, this would not result in a violation of anyone’s 2nd Amendment right.
For those who might find such a position (and the long-standing ban on campus) unreasonable, I remind them that CO legislators have exempted their own workplace from the jurisdiction of the Concealed Carry Act. That is to say, Colorado legislators passed a law, which bans firearms from their workplace [Section 18-12-214], yet overturns a similar, 42 year old restriction on firearms in my workplace. Given that fact, I think honest and good natured Coloradoans need to ask themselves why this is the case. I won’t go so far as to call it hypocrisy, but there is certainly a double standard about which we can only draw one conclusion: CO legislators don’t believe that the presence of concealed weapons in their work place makes them safer. They’ve seen the studies and they know that data: In the U.S. it is generally the case that the more firearms you introduce into an environment, the more homicides and gun-related violence there will be. See this Harvard School of Public Health website: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/index.html.