Court: University of Colorado Students Can Carry Guns on Campus

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The University of Colorado cannot prevent students from carrying concealed handguns in motor vehicles on campus, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled.

Three University of Colorado students sued the college in 2008, claiming a university policy banning firearms violated the state's Concealed Carry Act and the state constitution's right to bear arms.

The Board of Regents adopted a policy in 1994 that banned possession of firearms on campus, except for law enforcement, and said it would expel any student that carried a gun on campus.

Three students sued the University in El Paso County District Court, claiming the policy violated Colorado's Concealed Carry Act, of 2003.

The concealed carry law prohibits people with permits from carrying guns in public schools, but does not include an exception for the University of Colorado.

The Colorado Board of Regents sought dismissal, which a district court granted, finding the Concealed Carry Act prohibits only "local governments" from enforcing laws that violated the Act.

The court also found that the right to bear arms is not a "fundamental right" and can be restricted by state police power, and that the University policy passed a "rational basis" test under the Second Amendment.

The students appealed, and the court of appeals reversed.

On appeal, the students limited the scope of their argument "to the ability to possess a firearm in a motor vehicle when traveling on or through a University of Colorado campus." The court of appeals agreed that the students had stated a plausible claim for relief.

The University appealed, and in an order on Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeals' judgment.

"We hold that CCA's comprehensive statewide purpose, broad language, and narrow exclusions show that the General Assembly intended to divest the Board of Regents of its authority to regulated concealed handgun possession on campus," Justice Allison Eid wrote for the court.

By claiming that the University policy violated the Concealed Carry Act, the students stated a claim for relief, Judge Eid found.

The court declined to address the students' constitutional claims because it affirmed the court of appeals' ruling on statutory grounds. It remanded "for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."