A concealed-carry group is suing Ohio State, saying the university violates state law with its no-tolerance stance on concealed guns.
The group, which is a collaboration between the Students for Concealed Carry Foundation and Ohioans for Concealed Carry, says the university is unlawfully banning students with concealed-carrying permits from storing guns in their vehicles parked on campus and from carrying guns while representing the university off campus, according to the lawsuit filed in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court Sunday.
The Ohio Revised Code states concealed guns are banned on “any premises owned or leased by any public or private college, university or other institution of higher education.”
However, the lawsuit says OSU’s Code of Student Conduct violates an exemption to this law. The exemption states that guns are only allowed on campuses when they are “in a locked motor vehicle or the licensee is in the immediate process of placing the handgun in a locked motor vehicle.”
The OSU Code of Student Conduct states storage or possession of weapons on campus is prohibited, even if “otherwise permitted by law.”
Additionally, the lawsuit says OSU violates state law again because the university’s jurisdiction should end at the campus border. However, the code of conduct says students cannot possess guns when participating in any activity related to OSU when off campus.
Although he didn’t provide specific comment, OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said in a Tuesday email that the university will have an appropriate legal response to the lawsuit soon.
Simply put, all the group wants is for OSU to follow state law, Michael Moran, an attorney for the group said.
“I don’t think it’s proper that Ohio’s flagship land grant university should be allowed to conduct business that’s in violation of state law and the Constitutional rights of students, faculty and staff,” Moran said.
The suit shouldn’t come as a surprise to OSU, Moran said, given OSU was “put on notice” after publicly making clear it would not comply with state law when former President E. Gordon Gee said he had no intentions of changing the code of conduct during an April 2012 public forum on off-campus safety.
“You and I can debate that all day long and you have clear arguments,” Gee said. “But I’m in charge and we’re not going to do it…I have looked at these issues very, very carefully, it is not in the interest of a great university whereabouts, the ideas of allowing guns.”
Gee said he stands by the comments he made two years ago, even though it is not appropriate to comment on a legal matter with which he is not directly involved, in a statement emailed to The Lantern by a West Virginia University spokesman, where Gee is now president.
The April 2, 2012, issue of The Lantern that reported Gee’s comments was cited in the lawsuit.
Ultimately, the group wants a decision declaring OSU’s rules unenforceable and a permanent injunction that stops the rules in addition to attorney fees, according to the lawsuit.
The case is set to be heard July 14, 2015 at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, located at 345 S. High Street.