Friday, January 28, 2011

The Trouble With Tribbles

The funniest and best episode from the original Star Trek series--and now the University of Idaho has trouble with one Tribble:

A University of Idaho law student is suing the school over its firearms ban, saying the policy violates his Second Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Second-year law student Aaron Tribble, 36, filed a civil suit last Tuesday, challenging a policy that doesn’t allow him to store a registered handgun in his university-owned apartment.

The policy requires all firearms be stored at a campus police substation. The University of Idaho declined to comment.

Tribble, who lives in campus housing designated for students who are married or have children, will represent himself in the suit. A hearing for the case has been set for July 20.
I think there is a very good chance that Tribble might win this one.  Keep in mind that Mr. Tribble is not living in a dorm.  I can see why, in the relatively poorly secured setting of a dorm, the university might have some basis for arguing for a more restrictive policy.  I can also see how they might argue that the university has some obligation to operate in loco parentis in a dorm setting (although it has been decades since universities showed that level of concern).  But university-owned apartments are not in the same category.  These are year-round, permanent housing, in which the university happens to be the owner, and it is apparently not on campus.

Tribble is apparently arguing his case based on both the Second Amendment, and the Idaho Constitution's Art. I, sec. 11 protection of a right to keep and bear arms--which is vastly stronger than the Second Amendment:
Right to keep and bear arms. The people have the right to keep and bear arms, which right shall not be abridged; but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to govern the carrying of weapons concealed on the person nor prevent passage of legislation providing minimum sentences for crimes committed while in possession of a firearm, nor prevent the passage of legislation providing penalties for the possession of firearms by a convicted felon, nor prevent the passage of any legislation punishing the use of a firearm. No law shall impose licensure, registration or special taxation on the ownership or possession of firearms or ammunition. Nor shall any law permit the confiscation of firearms, except those actually used in the commission of a felony.
 Starting with In re Brickey (Ida. 1902), the Idaho Supreme Court has consistently recognized that state and local governments may not prohibit open carry of firearms on public streets:
The second amendment to the federal constitution is in the following language: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." The language of section 11, art. 1, Const. Idaho, is as follows: "The people have the right to bear arms for their security and defense, but the legislature shall regulate the exercise of this right by law." Under these constitutional provisions, the legislature has no power to prohibit a citizen from bearing arms in any portion of the state of Idaho, whether within or without the corporate limits of cities, towns, and villages. The legislature may, as expressly provided in our state constitution, regulate the exercise of this right, but may not prohibit it.
 Clear enough?  I am hard pressed to see how the University of Idaho has authority to prohibit possession of a firearm in one's home (even when acting as landlord) if they can't prohibit carrying a gun on the street.  In classrooms?  Probably a "sensitive area" within the rather poor reasoning of D.C. v. Heller (2008).  Perhaps on campus itself--although this is a stretch.  But in a student's off-campus home?  You must be joking.

1 comment:

Link P said...

The initial article you cite contains one of my major pet peeves committed by "authorized journalists." How can Mr. Tribble possess a registered handgun when the state of Idaho has no firearms registration?