Buckeyes for Concealed Carry Plans to Sue Ohio State

by Michael Newbern

The cat is out of the bag. We, as Students for Concealed Carry’s Ohio State chapter, are preparing a lawsuit against Ohio State University. We’ve been dripping tidbits of information here and there. In a recent interview, I finally told our very own student media outlet, The Lantern, about our plans.

Their report came out Friday. It is sure to stir up more buzz around campus, which is good. However, The Lantern misrepresented some facts, missed some important connections, and left out some critical information.

Let’s set the record straight.

First, it’s important to understand that concealed carry is authorized on Ohio’s college campuses under one condition right now. Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 2923.126(B)(5) states:

A valid license does not authorize a licensee to carry a concealed firearm onto 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.

The one condition where we are authorized to carry a concealed handgun onto college campuses is when it is in a motor vehicle.

When I explain this to people, I like to phrase in a real world scenario most can relate to. This law allows soccer mom to rush Johnny to OSU medical center after he gets his teeth kicked in playing soccer without having to go home to secure her firearm first or parking far away from the ER. Under the way ORC is now, she can legally drive to the medical center right then, park her car in her garage, disarm and secure her firearm in her mini-van, and then take Johnny to the ER.

Ohio State University students, faculty, and staff do not enjoy that same right. Several policies restrict possession of firearms on campus. The Student Code of Conduct is the most prevalent. Section 3335-25-04(E) expressly prohibits:

Storage or possession of dangerous weapons, devices, or substances including, but not limited to, firearms, ammunition, or fireworks, unless authorized by an appropriate university official or permitted by a university policy, even if otherwise permitted by law. Use or misuse of weapons, devices, or substances in a manner that causes or threatens serious harm to the safety or security of others.

It is key to note that the University recognizes that law allows us to store firearms in our motor vehicles. The University Administration and the Board of Trustees still prohibit firearms “even if otherwise permitted by law.” This demonstrates the lack of any desire to follow the law and adhere to the will of the people of Ohio.

While these policies result in administrative punishments and the violator will not face criminal charges, the consequences of violating them are VERY severe. I recently wrote how one female student is faced with the decision between facing a stalker while defenseless or carrying her firearm in her vehicle and facing possible university administrative sanctions. Both choices present very serious risks. Her stalker could assault, rape, or kill her should he find her without her firearm. The university could expel her a year away from finishing a professional medical school for following the law, leaving her with mountains of debt and a mark on her record that may prevent her from ever being able to pay it back.

Our interactions with President Gee, Chief Denton, other administrators, and the Board of Trustees confirm that they have no desire to follow law and adhere to the will of the people of Ohio.

We’ve appealed to them on several occasions. Several of us have personally asked for permission to store our firearms in our motor vehicles on campus only to get the run-around or outright denial. We have emails to prove it. In fact, President Gee said in a town hall style meeting:

You and I can debate that all day long and you have clear arguments. But I’m in charge and we’re not going to do it.

During this same town hall style meeting, he said that the drinking age should be dropped to 18 and that he has instructed his police department to selectively enforce underage consumption. In the meeting, President Gee summed up his philosophy. He’s in charge. He is the sole authority on campus. He can allow or prohibit behavior on his campus regardless of whether or not that behavior is legal.

In President Gee’s world, he is the supreme ruler.

Fortunately for us, his world is not reality. ORC includes a neat little blurb. That neat little blurb in the ORC is the savior of our rights state-wide. It is what also prevents Mayors Against Illegal Guns Ohio Chair and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman from banning guns in Columbus. ORC 9.68 is Ohio’s firearms preemption clause. It states:

The individual right to keep and bear arms, being a fundamental individual right that predates the United States Constitution and Ohio Constitution, and being a constitutionally protected right in every part of Ohio, the general assembly finds the need to provide uniform laws throughout the state regulating the ownership, possession, purchase, other acquisition, transport, storage, carrying, sale, or other transfer of firearms, their components, and their ammunition. Except as specifically provided by the United States Constitution, Ohio Constitution, state law, or federal law, a person, without further license, permission, restriction, delay, or process, may own, possess, purchase, sell, transfer, transport, store, or keep any firearm, part of a firearm, its components, and its ammunition.

Ohioans for Concealed Carry (OFCC) successfully used the preemption clause to bring Clyde, Ohio’s firearms regulations back in line with ORC. They also did it with the city of Campbell. Cleveland Heights changed its local regulations before the Buckeye Firearms Association and OFCC were able to bring their suits to court.

It is our firm belief that Ohio State University is also in violation of ORC 9.68.

It is also our belief that when we remove ORC 2923.126(B)(5) from law and licensed unrestricted campus concealed carry is made legal that Ohio State University will continue to violate ORC 9.68 and will continue to ban firearms. Much like we did in Colorado, we will eventually be forced to sue Ohio State University to bring it in line with law. We can either do that now, or we can wait until we change law.

Our position is that we need to move forward with such a lawsuit.

We are currently researching our case. We are working with Columbus attorneys to file a suit. We are raising money to fund our lawsuit.

Will we sue OSU next week? Will we sue OSU next month? Will we sue OSU next year? Right now we can’t say. The timing relies largely on funding. We have a solid case. We just need a solid bank account.

Of course, Ohio State could do the right thing. We doubt it. If you do too, please donate to us.

You can send your check to:

Buckeyes for Concealed Carry
1739 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43210

Please also sign our petition.

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