In our society, people between the ages of 18 and 21 are treated as second class citizens. On one hand, 18-20 year old adults are told that when they turn 18 they are adult enough to be forced to fight and die for the whims of politicians at the convenience of the Selective Service System. On the other hand, they are told that they essentially are stupid children who lack the ability to make responsible choices regarding when to consume alcohol. The irony of the latter is that when they do choose to consume alcohol in contravention of the law, they are punished as an adult, in adult court, for something that they have previously been deemed too childish to partake in.
Being between 18-20 years of age is also where most people embark on their higher education experience. Going to a college or university can be both fun, empowering of a bright future, and unfortunately, dangerous. As we who blog around here believe in individual responsibility, I believe that college students are adults whose liberty and freedom should be respected in such a manner so that they have both the natural and legal right to defend themselves on-campus or in their dorm if they were violently attacked.
Unfortunately for students and visitors of facilities of The University System of New Hampshire, there are rules that un-elected bureaucrats have handed down which purport that one cannot possess otherwise completely legal defensive weapons without facing severe consequences.
In my personal opinion, the rules that claim students and visitors at higher educational institutions like Keene State College, UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester, Granite State College, and Plymouth State College cannot possess an otherwise legal knife or firearm are illegal, unenforceable, and contrary to established public policy.
Please allow me to make a case to you as to why.
The Keene State College Student Handbook section dealing with weapons will serve as our example:
Handguns (including paint, pellet, BB air guns, or authentic-looking replicas) are prohibited on property owned or operated by Keene State College. Violators will be subject to disciplinary action, and all incidents involving gun possession on campus will be reported to the Keene State College Department of Campus Safety and the Keene Police Department.
Large hunting knives, bows and arrows, long rifles, and shotguns are also prohibited. Any prohibited weapons will be confiscated and stored by Campus Safety until the student has the opportunity to remove them from campus.
Authorization for use of theatrical weapons for theatre or movie production must be obtained from the Director of Campus Safety.
At first glance of the KSC Student Handbook “Weapons” section, it would appear that if you are a student or visitor at Keene State College who is concerned about your safety and wish to carry a defensive firearm or knife, you’re prohibited from doing so. I vehemently disagree because I believe that these public institutions lack the legal authority to make such rules.
The state law which establishes the University System of New Hampshire is RSA 187-A:1. It reads as follows:
187-A:1 The University System of New Hampshire. – The university system of New Hampshire is established and made a body politic and corporate, the main purpose of which shall be to provide a well coordinated system of public higher education offering liberal undergraduate education encompassing the major branches of learning, emphasizing our cultural heritage, and cultivating the skills of reasoning and communication. The university system shall provide for professional and technical 2-year, 4-year and graduate programs which serve the needs of the state and the nation; for research which contributes to the welfare of mankind, to the development of the faculty, and to the educational experience of students; and for its faculty and staff to bring educational resources and professional experience to the benefit of the state and its people. The university system of New Hampshire is authorized to grant and confer in the name of the university system of New Hampshire all such degrees, literary titles, honors and distinctions as other universities may of right do.
You’ll note that the University System of New Hampshire is established as a “body politic and corporate.” This makes the University System of New Hampshire a “political subdivision” of the state which makes it subordinate to the laws passed by the New Hampshire General Court. The University System is additionally ran by a board of 27 trustees, 11 of which are appointed by the the Governor and Executive Council. They also receive tax dollar subsidies from you, the taxpayer.
In 2003 the State of New Hampshire enacted RSA 159:26 which left the regulation of firearms to the exclusive control of the General Court. In August of this year, after much hard work by liberty orientated state representatives, the General Court amended the law to include not only firearms, but knives.
The law now reads:
159:26 Firearms, Ammunition, and Knives; Authority of the State. –
I. To the extent consistent with federal law, the state of New Hampshire shall have authority and jurisdiction over the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearms components, ammunition, firearms supplies, or knives in the state. Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, no ordinance or regulation of a political subdivision may regulate the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearms components, ammunition, or firearms supplies in the state. Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting a political subdivision’s right to adopt zoning ordinances for the purpose of regulating firearms or knives businesses in the same manner as other businesses or to take any action allowed under RSA 207:59.
II. Upon the effective date of this section, all municipal ordinances and regulations not authorized under paragraph I relative to the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, permitting, taxation, or other matter pertaining to firearms, firearm components, ammunition, firearms supplies, or knives shall be null and void.
This means that no government organization subordinate to the State of New Hampshire that has delegated law or rule-making authority (ie: The University System of New Hampshire) can do anything to control firearms OR knives without the NH General Court’s express consent. Believe it or not, I have read the entirety of the New Hampshire Revised Statues, and I’ve not found such express consent anywhere within.
In my opinion and for the aforementioned reasons, all of the rules of the various institutions that comprise the University System of New Hampshire that regulate firearm or knife possession are illegal and un-enforceable. Oh, and I’m not a lawyer, so please don’t view this information as legal advice. Giving legal advice when not a lawyer is against state law. If you choose to openly violate these rules because you come to the same conclusion that I have regarding their validity, I would strongly suggest you speak with a lawyer first as doing so will most likely subject you to harassment and/or arrest. Most likely what needs to happen is someone needs to go to the New Hampshire Superior Court and obtain a declaratory judgement that the rules are unenforceable. This would be a judicial order that would protect you from disciplinary action and/or arrest.
This is my second time writing about and attempting to call attention to this issue. I felt touching on it again now was appropriate as knives are now included in the state “preemption” law.
Oregon just went through this. I think we should too.