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Oregon Colleges Ban Guns. Students Tote Them Anyway. Here’s Why.

October 8, 2015

the Trace

October 8, 2015

by ALEX YABLON AND OLIVIA LI

Umpqua Community College student John Parker Jr. didn’t think much about bringing his gun to campus last Thursday. An Air Force veteran and Oregon concealed weapon license holder, he had his handgun with him when the school went into lockdown during a mass shooting that left 10 people dead and eight more injured. The next day, Parker told MSNBC that he thought about trying to intervene, but ultimately decided not to, fearing he might interfere with a police response…

With his comments, Parker had unwittingly wandered into Oregon’s ongoing fight over the legality of guns on campus, which has largely played out in the courts. Schools there maintain they have the right to determine rules about guns on their grounds since they are obligated to protect the safety of their students and employees. But gun activists point to Oregon’s preemption law, which bars any administrative body below the state legislature from regulating firearms. In the resulting battle, Oregon colleges have scored a temporary victory — but would likely see their policies regulating guns on campus get overruled in court should they ever try to enforce them.

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