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Judge upholds campus gun ban

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — A judge has ruled that the University of Missouri’s campus ban on concealed guns doesn’t conflict with state law.

Circuit Judge Jeff Harris’ ruling on Wednesday rejected arguments that the school’s ban violates a law protecting state employees from prosecution for having concealed guns in their parked cars while on state property, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.

The state law being cited “addresses criminal conduct, and does not determine what defendants can regulate as a civil matter on their own property,” Harris wrote.

Law professor Royce Barondes, a tenured professor who teaches a class on firearms law and is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, has asked a court in 2015 to invalidate the university’s ban on firearms. Barondes claimed the university’s rules against carrying a weapon on campus violated his rights under the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as a state law that allows public employees to keep guns locked in their cars. Then-Attorney General Chris Koster filed a companion lawsuit in 2016.

Missouri passed an amendment in 2014 that strengthened gun rights and says future restrictions on gun rights are subject to strict scrutiny.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling on the state statute issue and will be working toward the trial on the remaining issue,” UM System spokesman Christian Basi wrote in an email.

Barondes and the Attorney General’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Harris’ ruling didn’t directly address whether the ban violates the state constitution. The judge wrote that a bench trial will be held on that claim.

He also rejected the university’s arguments that it’s not subject to the same constitutional scrutiny that applies to statutes regulating firearms.

“The rule is not exempt from some level of constitutional scrutiny even if a university is a ‘sensitive place’ as that term is used in Second Amendment cases,” Harris said.

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