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ODU's New Gun Regulation

By The Virginian-Pilot - September 20, 2011

Old Dominion University's efforts to bar everyone but police from carrying firearms into academic buildings, athletic stadiums and dining facilities is hardly the affront to liberty that gun-rights advocates would suggest.

For years, the university had a policy banning students, faculty, staff and guests from carrying firearms. But this summer, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli opined that such policies don't apply to uninvited guests who have a concealed carry permit.

In response, ODU has begun the process of enacting a regulation - which, unlike a policy, has the force of law - that bans any visitor from entering university facilities while armed. The regulation, however, wouldn't affect a visitor's right to simply pass through campus while carrying.

The proposal was inspired by the governing board of George Mason University. That school's regulation, similar to the proposal at ODU, withstood a powerful legal challenge that claimed it infringed on the Second Amendment, but the Virginia Supreme Court ruled this year that it is indeed constitutional.

As the court - and later, Cuccinelli - noted, despite vehement disagreement from some gun-rights advocates, the Second Amendment's right to bear arms is not absolute.

For proof, look no further than the U.S. Supreme Court's recent rulings in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago. Those two landmark cases affirmed Americans' right to own a handgun but stopped well short of endorsing a gun in every hand on every corner.

The right to keep and bear arms, the justices explained, is not "a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."

Justice Samuel Alito reiterated in McDonald that neither ruling should be misconstrued as casting "doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures as 'prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,' 'laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and the qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.'"

Public safety is a critical issue on every college campus, including ODU. University and Norfolk police are properly ramping up efforts to safeguard the campus and surroundings.

Administrators, meanwhile, are doing what they legally can to make it clear that guns are unwelcome on campus, whether carried by faculty, students, employees or visitors. The proposed regulation would accomplish that.

Original content from The Virginian-Pilot