The University System of New Hampshire’s Illegal Victim-Disarmament Zones

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.

14 Comments

  1. "Adulthood" is different for different things. 21 for contracts and booze. 18 for voting and military enlistment (or draft in past years). 14 in some states for "medical emancipation" (abortions).

    The country experimented with 18 drinking age a few years ago and the 18 year olds blew it. I agree it's irritating. However, it's not as arbitrary as it seems. It's all based on public experience.

    As for the University… Look for a book from the 60's titled "THE STUDENT AS NIGGER". My abuse from the schools began in the 1st grade when I was punished for knowing how to add and subtract negative numbers.

  2. Oh, and voting is 17 in some states and 17 is the age when people are allowed to join the military.

  3. I am particularly excited about the fact that this law applies to high schools as well. I'm a 10th grade mathematics teacher and when those insufferable brats start talking and texting, I can imagine that nothing like a little flash of a sidearm will get them to shut their traps and put away their IPhones. The best part is that unlike university teachers, very very few of those students will have equal access to firearms, giving me both a psychological and physical advantage even if those monsters decide to gang up on me.

  4. Thurston Phillips,

    That is correct, this law preempts local school board control of firearm and knife possession within a school. It has always been that way though… and there doesn't seem to be any issues with people carrying firearms to school.

    Under arguably unconstitutional federal law (18 USC 922 (x)) It is usually illegal for someone under the age of 18 to possess a handgun, that would be your 10th graders.

    Further down the road of unconstitutionality (see United States v. Lopez) is 18 USC 922 (q) which prohibits the possession of firearms in a "gun free school zone." In the first restriction on the interstate commerce clause since the New Deal, the US Supreme Court struck down the GFSZA in 1995. Of course that didn't dissuade Congress… they just re-enacted it in its current form and added a preamble about how carrying a firearm in a school zone has a nexus to interstate commerce. I've read the Federalist Papers, and this sure isn't what the framers had in mind when they thought they were going to prohibit states from imposing tariffs on each other.

    To think that any gun law whatsoever does anything to stop legitimate and determined criminals is just plain silly. All these laws do is disarm people who are law-abiding in the first place.

  5. @Brad

    "To think that any gun law whatsoever does anything to stop legitimate and determined criminals is just plain silly. All these laws do is disarm people who are law-abiding in the first place."

    I couldn't agree more! I would take it even further and say that not only the presence of weapons but occasional irresponsibility with said weapons helps deter crime, especially in the context of university residences. Now, residence were full of drunk students, high population densities and stress from school. Not to mention rather inconsistent supervision and guidance. Especially on Friday and Saturday nights late in the semester, this mix basically equated dorms to gladiator arenas. Nothing breaks up a fight quicker than a warning shot from a student who just wants to sleep off his bender.

  6. That student would most likely end up in prison.

    Furthermore, you seem to be taking issue with the fact that I am informing people what *I* believe their legal rights are.

  7. Wait. Would they go to prison even if they didn't hit anyone? What if it was a blank cartridge?

  8. Nothing says "sleep" like blowing a round off inside of a dorm hall. Of course, it could mean permanent sleep for someone who is the recipient of a misguided bullet all in the name of a good night's rest. Do you really want college kids blowing off rounds (whether a blank cartridge or not) whenever they want someone's attention or to have things go their way? If so, there is going to be a lot of Naked Gun shootouts going on. lol

  9. Brad, so are you saying that HB334 is redundant ?

    see http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2011/

    We'll be voting on this in January, but it sounds like you are saying, bill passage or not, the law is already clear that schools like UNH cannot ban guns regardless.

  10. @matt

    Of course I don't WANT students blowing off rounds in dorms, I am not illogical or anything. I am just saying that if it did happen, it might have positive effects. On the level above, a fight ends. Criminals will now know that entering that dorm illegally is like trying to rob an armory. Plus all the college chicks will now know who the Alpha-Male is on campus. In my opinion, nerds and deadbeats are getting too many women these days. Leave it to a lefty to go and exaggerate the effect of guns. Real life isn't Terminator 2: Judgement Day buddy.

    I have seen numerous REALITY television shows like Top Shot, Mythbusters, Pawn Stars and Auction Hunters and never has a gun ever been shown hurting/killing anyone.

  11. Brad, so are you saying that HB334 is redundant ?

    see http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2011/
    We’ll be voting on this in January, but it sounds like you are saying, bill passage or not, the law is already clear that schools like UNH cannot ban guns regardless.

    Yes sir, indeed.

    HB334 is essentially the NH General Court saying what is already legal….. Because the University System of NH has flagrantly been violating the preemption law.

  12. News in MS, a state with historically high gun ownership but with a history of highly restrictive firearm laws. Firearms are now allowed on college campuses and even in courtrooms in MS but you have to get a special permit.
    http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/articl

  13. "I have seen numerous REALITY television shows like Top Shot, Mythbusters, Pawn Stars and Auction Hunters and never has a gun ever been shown hurting/killing anyone."

    Wow. Colossal moron….right up there with david-keene. When you're done watching your tv shows created in controlled environments for entertainment purposes, take some time and enter REALITY LIFE….where emotions of individuals use weapons to achieve their ends. Brad at least can formulate a logical argument….but your thoughts are, quite simply….RETARDED. Who is the alpha male on Pawn Stars….Grampa or daddy? lol

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