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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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Student to challenge U concealed gun prohibition

The University’s general counsel said the concealed weapons ban rests on solid legal grounds.

Two months after the Board of Regents banned guns on campus, at least one University student is working to challenge that decision.

Fourth-year economics and business student Martin Wingard, who has a gun permit under the conceal-and-carry gun law passed by the Legislature in April, said the University’s ban is a violation of his rights.

“It’s stupid,” Wingard said. “(It’s about) normal, responsible people who want to take defense in their own hands.”

The law was passed in April and requires sheriffs to issue conceal-and-carry permits to all applicants 21 or older who meet standards of U.S. citizenship, handgun safety training and criminal and mental health background checks.

University officials said the institution’s reaction was to defend its conduct code, which prohibits guns on campus.

On July 11, the University officially prohibited any individuals from carrying guns on campus.

Though nothing is concrete, Wingard said, he and Sen. Pat Pariseau, R-Farmington, one of the authors of the conceal-and-carry bill, are talking about a lawsuit against the University.

Wingard said because he is a student, he thought he would be more useful in any possible case against the University and his point of view would represent the University better than a nonstudent.

Pariseau was unavailable for comment.

Wingard said the University can expect a lawsuit.

“Sometime in the future they will (be sued) because their position has so many holes,” Wingard said.

Wingard said it will be at least a year until they take action.

Other students feel the policy improves campus safety.

First-year student Katie Cooper said she would not attend the University if the gun-ban policy was not in effect.

“I just think (it would be) a bad idea,” Cooper said. “The policy keeps campus safer.”

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg told The Minnesota Daily in July the University’s gun ban is on legally “solid ground” because of the institution’s constitutional autonomy. The University is granted the power to govern itself by the state’s constitution, he said.

Joe Olson, Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance president and law professor at Hamline University, said the University’s stance will work against it.

“It’s quite likely the University will be sued,” Olson said. “It’s irrational of them to think they’re not subject to the laws of Minnesota.”

The effects of the University’s gun ban might be felt in the future, Olson said.

“The University will lose not only on this issue,” Olson said, “but they will change their relationship with the state of Minnesota forever.”

A University law professor disagreed, saying the gun ban was a good decision by the Board of Regents.

“I think weapons and physical violence have no place in an academic institution,” said Fred Morrison, law professor at the University. “We didn’t have much of a problem before and we don’t have much of a problem now, due to the regents’ decision.”

Since the policy was put in place, University police have not issued any tickets for violations of the gun ban, University police Lt. Chuck Miner said.

“Nobody’s tested the system,” said Miner. “(But) we are ready to respond to any incident.”

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