Courtesy of MCT
After months of demanding guns be allowed on Ohio State’s campus, Ohio Students for Concealed Carry is preparing to file a lawsuit against the university.
In an statement published on the group’s websiteon Nov. 20, Michael Newbern, director of Ohio Students for Concealed Carry and a third-year in industrial and systems engineering, gave words of warning to Gee.
“We’re coming for you, (OSU President E.) Gordon Gee. And we’re going to be knocking sooner than you think. You can either recognize the will of the people of Ohio, or expect a pink slip,” Newbern wrote.
Newbern told The Lantern that the group has reached a point where a lawsuit against Gee is the only way to make their voice heard.
“We tried, and we have been trying for a year, and there is no interest. No interest whatsoever in speaking to me, anybody from our group, none at all,” Newbern said. “That’s fine, (Gee) can explain it in court in front of a judge.”
At the beginning of Fall Semester, Newbern’s cause gained attention after OSU Police released an Aug. 26 safety notice, telling students of crimes that had occurred on and off campus. Members of Buckeyes for Concealed Carry, the OSU chapter of Ohio Students for Concealed Carry, followed up with a return email to thousands of students about how guns could help if students are in danger.
Three months later, Newbern said the group is ready to file a lawsuit against OSU as early as next semester, after raising about $3,000 at a fundraiser dinner at the beginning of November.
“We are working with a team of attorneys in the Central Ohio area,” Newbern said. “The money is rolling in a lot faster than we thought. And there are other sources, both inside and outside of Ohio, that make that number look very small.”
While Newbern said in the past that Buckeyes for Concealed Carry members want to be able to carry their licensed guns on campus, he now said members are advocating for the right to store handguns in cars parked on campus.
Newbern argued that the Ohio Revised Code states that guns cannot be on “any premises owned or leased by any public or private college, university or other institution of higher education, unless the handgun is in a locked motor vehicle or the licensee is in the immediate process of placing the handgun in a locked motor vehicle,” and therefore, would allow students to keep their handgun in the car on campus.
But OSU law professor Ric Simmons said the situation is difficult since the Ohio Revised Code does not clarify if other institutions could ban those weapons.
“If Ohio Revised Code gives you the right to carry this gun in their car, then the Ohio Revised code would overrule the Student Code of Conduct,” Simmons said. “But it’s not clear to me that Ohio Revised Code does give them the right to carry the gun in the car. It simply says they are not banned from it, but that doesn’t mean that someone else can’t ban it.”
In an email to The Lantern, OSU spokeswoman Amy Murray, said she doesn’t think the group will see any changes in campus policy.
“Dr. Gee has heard from all sides of this challenging issue and remains firm in the position against allowing guns on campus,” Murray said. “The university has no plans to change its current concealed-carry policy.”
Gee has consistently reiterated how he feels about the issue.
“Not as long as I’m president,” Gee said during a Sept. 10 editorial board meeting with The Lantern. “I’m unequivocally opposed. I think that is a horrible idea on a university campus to be carrying guns. Period.”
Some students said they don’t approve of guns on campus either.
Alyssa Glovan, a fourth-year in social work, said she does not approve of the lawsuit against OSU because she thinks only “crazy” people would carry a weapon on campus. She also said she doesn’t understand how having a gun stored in their car will help students.
“I don’t see how it would be of much use if you are on campus and your car is not around,” she said.
Kate Novotny, a graduate student in English, said she also has a “strongly opposite opinion” on the issue and would feel much less safe if guns were permitted on campus.
“It wouldn’t change anything for people who think that guns will make us safer, and I think it would make people nervous who think that there is no reason to have a gun on campus and that’s only going to lead to problems,” Novotny said.