Public colleges deny students’ Constitutional rights

17-2-constitutional-rights

There isn’t anything Americans hold more dear than civil liberties.
Our rights and freedoms are what set this great nation apart from every other on this little blue marble we call Earth. Countless lives have been lost reclaiming and protecting our rights. To deny the fruits of such sacrifice would be to negate the very worth of the sacrifice itself.
Yet, Washington’s colleges are denying students their Constitutional rights.
Public college officials are using policy and student codes of conduct as a means of legislating away the civil rights of  students by denying us the ability to carry a weapon for personal protection.
Our state’s constitution clearly says, “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired.”
Notice, if you will, I didn’t quote the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Let me be as clear as I can for you.  This is not a Second Amendment issue. How we handle business inside our state is not in the purview of the federal government, or at least it shouldn’t be.
This, however, didn’t stop our Federal Overlords, along with the fake and phony conservative organization, known as the National Rifle Association, from usurping the rights of Chicago’s citizens.
By overturning the city’s lawfully enacted gun ban, the Feds set a legal precedence allowing them to overrule state laws on gun control.
Washingtonians would be smart to follow our own rules on this issue or we may suffer the same fate.
I get strange looks from people when they learn that I, a concealed pistol license holder, supported Chicago’s gun ban.
Freedom is no half-measure, people.
You either believe in freedom and liberty or you don’t. The people of Chicago are free to live their lives and pass whatever laws they see fit, and I am free not to live there.  The Feds had no constitutional authority to go inside the city government and make legislation,. Anybody who thinks they did needs to re-read the Constitution.
Our state, however, is attempting to fix its little faux pas by passing a bill that would ban anyone from carrying a weapon on any college campus, public or private.  To do so would be a violation of our state’s Constitution, especially when applied to private institutions, which currently are free to make their own policies on the matter.
Public schools such as Pierce College are bound by state law and can’t pass policies that infringe on our Constitutional rights.
This hasn’t stopped Pierce officials from stepping on our civil liberties through its student code of conduct by prohibiting our ability to carry a weapon on premises. Comprehensive weapons bans such as this create an unsafe environment. Criminals know that unarmed students are ideal targets for muggings and car-jackings. Some students on campus don’t finish class until 10 p.m., well after dark.
“It’s always good to carry something for your personal protection,” said a 16-year old Running Start student, who wished to remain anonymous.
She carries pepper spray her father gave her as a means of self-defense. Currently in violation of college’s code of conduct, she wasn’t even aware she of such an infraction.
Since protecting one’s self is such a basic human right, I guess neither one of them bothered to check the rule book before taking such precautions nor should they have too.
Students aren’t the only ones who should be worried about their personal safety.
“To be honest, they’re going to save my life one day,” said Sgt. Supervisor Maureen Rickertsen, referring to legally armed citizens who may one day aid her since she too isn’t allowed to carry a weapon on campus.
Who can we depend on to keep us safe with such underprepared security personnel? Since officers charged with the task are no match for an assailant, we must take our own precautions for personal protection.
Washington isn’t the only state in the union to tackle this issue recently. Following the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, where 33 innocent people were gunned down, campus security has been a debated issue that won’t go away. Considering the incident is the deadliest shooting in U.S. history it’s not difficult to see why.
“I don’t take a philosophical position on it. I’m going to refer you to the code of conduct’s status on that,” said Chris MacKersie, district safety director, when asked if he thought a weapon in the classroom would have saved lives at Virginia Tech.
Oregon recently received its shot across the bow regarding this issue. On Sept. 29, 2011, the state lost a lawsuit brought by the Oregon Firearms Federation. According to concealedcampus.com, the suit was filed on behalf of student Jeff Maxwell, a former Marine, who was arrested for carrying a weapon on campus. The criminal charges were dropped, but Maxwell was suspended for violating the school’s policies.
The Oregon courts returned a favorable decision for all those wishing to see the moratorium on campus-carry restrictions lifted.
This ruling only applies to public schools and their institutional authority though. Basically, it means state schools can’t legislate away gun rights though policies and codes of conduct.
The ruling doesn’t prevent a law from being passed such as our own impending regulation. But at least by recognizing the need for real legislation on the matter, voters can decide for themselves with elected officials being held accountable during future election cycles.
I fear we may be open to similar legal action here without proper legislation to back Pierce College’s code of conduct.
I contacted Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office for his  thoughts on this issue. Although his staff was friendly and helpful, he was unavailable for comment.
I would like to see Pierce College change it’s current policy and endorse a “Concealed Carry Day.”
Students who carry weapons on this day can wear a ribbon as a means conveying their support for the issue without having to brandish a weapon. With there being many options for personal safety this event would be open to students of all ages. Participants would follow state laws to the letter ensuring a safe time for everyone.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Public colleges deny students’ Constitutional rights

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