COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The University of Missouri's restriction on who can have guns on campus does not violate the state constitution, a Boone County judge ruled Monday.
The state attorney general was suing UM System leaders including President Mun Choi and the Board of Curators over the university's internal regulation banning the possession and discharge of guns and explosives on university property. The rule made exceptions for those "in regularly approved programs or by University agents or employees in the line of duty."
MU spokesman Christian Basi said the university is pleased with the ruling.
"The University vigorously supports the Second Amendment, and we are pleased that the court found the firearm policy constitutional. The safety of our universities is among our highest priorities; we believe the court’s decision serves the best interests of our students, staff, faculty members and others who spend time on campus. This policy has worked well for decades to support safe environments for all to learn, live and work together to carry out our higher education mission."University of Missouri spokesman Christian Basi
A professor originally filed the lawsuit in 2015 but the Missouri Attorney General's Office took over as plaintiff in October 2018.
Circuit Judge Jeff Harris presided over a bench trial in August on the question of whether the rule violated the state constitution. Missouri voters enshrined the right to bear arms in the state constitution in August 2014.
In his ruling, Harris wrote that the attorney general "offered no evidence from law enforcement and relied solely on a statistician whose opinions arguably support the Rule." The university, however, called experts during the trial including police chiefs along with presenting statistical evidence, he wrote.
"To reach a result based on something other than the evidence adduced at trial would be engaging in judicial activism, which the Court will not do," Harris wrote.
Harris wrote that the state constitution requires "strict scrutiny" of any restrictions on the right to carry guns and that the university's regulation meets that standard. He said he disagreed with UM's assertion that the right to bear arms does not apply on the university campus.
The burden of proof in such cases rests with the party challenging the law, Harris wrote, but the state did not meet the burden in this case. The university, even though it did not carry the burden of proof, could still have met that burden, he wrote.
Harris had already ruled in September 2018 that the rule does not violate state statute.
A spokesman for the attorney general's office declined to comment. A university spokesman was not immediately available.