Guns and Goldy: Weapons debate comes to the U

University student Martin Wingard might challenge the regents’ concealed weapons ban. While much about this issue is uncertain, no student will successfully challenge University authority on this matter.

The Minnesota conceal-and-carry law specifically gives the University authority to prohibit students and employees from carrying concealed weapons on campus. On the other hand, it attempts to restrict the University’s authority to prohibit the general public from doing so. The Board of Regents, however, decided to prohibit all concealed weapons last July, asserting the University’s autonomy.

This is not the only recent test of the University’s autonomy. Most notably, The Minnesota Daily, along with other organizations, successfully challenged it last spring during the regents’ search for a new president. This is presumably what led Hamline law professor and National Rifle Association board member Joe Olson to claim in the Daily’s Tuesday issue that the University is acting outside its authority.

The University’s charter and the Minnesota Constitution create the autonomy that allows the University to control internal policy, even in contradiction to some state laws. Courts decide the autonomy question on a case-by-case basis; however, in general, the regents cannot ignore procedural requirements such as open meeting or data practice laws, but they have consistently and successfully challenged intrusions into the internal control and management of the University, as noted by the Minnesota Supreme Court in University of Minnesota v. Lord.

While the public should understand the legal situation, the real question is whether allowing concealed weapons makes the University community more or less safe. There is very little violent or gun-related crime on campus. Even if concealed weapons decrease violence in other places, which might or might not be true, there is not the requisite violence or lack of security on campus to justify their presence. If someone does fight the regents’ ban, we hope Minnesota courts will uphold the University’s autonomy and our school community’s best interests.