Judge holds that ban does not violate a state statute; constitutional question remains
A Missouri judge ruled this week that, while the University of Missouri’s gun ban does not conflict with a state law, it nevertheless must be subject to the “strict scrutiny” required by the state’s constitution, reports local news station ABC17.
The case before Judge Jeff Harris concerned a two-pronged challenge to the university’s gun ban brought by both a law professor at the school and the Missouri Attorney General’s office. The plaintiffs argued that the ban “violates both a constitutional amendment voters approved in 2014 that enshrined a right to bear arms into the state constitution and a statute allowing state employees to have guns concealed in their vehicles while parked on state property.”
Judge Harris ruled that the prohibition “does not conflict with state statute, but that claims the rule violates the state constitution deserve further scrutiny.”
Harris ruled that the university’s arguments claiming that two 19th century court cases establishing the state’s right to regulate possession of firearms in certain “sensitive” places applied to the case were not convincing.
Harris found that the university’s prohibition is not invalidated by the statute allowing state employees to have concealed guns in vehicles on state property. He cited the “plain language” of the statute, which includes the clause “Notwithstanding any sections of this provision to the contrary.”
The statute, Harris wrote, addresses “what conduct constitutes the unlawful use of weapons, and not what the University can regulate on its property as a civil matter.”
“In concluding that the Rule does not conflict with the statute, the Court simply cannot ignore the plain language and meaning of the ‘notwithstanding’ clause,” Harris wrote.
However, he also noted in rejecting the university’s request to dismiss the claim that the constitutional amendment passed in 2014 states that restrictions on gun rights “shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”
A bench trial will be held to determine the constitutional question, Harris ruled. A university spokesman said the school is “pleased with the ruling on the state statute.”
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