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View Full Version : Does private security has the power to confiscate firearms?


Lugiahua
11-08-2013, 5:04 PM
Here is what I read on NRA today:
http://www.gonzagabulletin.com/mobile/news/article_9c59881a-4772-11e3-b99e-001a4bcf6878.html

Basically, some Gonzaga students fend off intruders with a legally owned handgun, then campus security confiscate it. The student might be expelled for defending themselves.

Here is my question:
does campus security or residential office have the power to confiscate private owned firearms on the off campus property, based on merely student code? Can they do it to non-students?

whlgun
11-08-2013, 5:07 PM
No.

Tincon
11-08-2013, 5:16 PM
Campus can make their own rules, subject to enforcement by expulsion etc. But unless state law provides for it, no with criminal penalties. If there is a crime, that might change things (where having a gun would be a state law violation). To the extent a campus cop is an actual peace officer, there may be times where failure to comply with a lawful could result in separate criminal liability. Common sense would probably apply, but each situation is different.

Lugiahua
11-08-2013, 5:24 PM
Campus can make their own rules, subject to enforcement by expulsion etc. But unless state law provides for it, no with criminal penalties. If there is a crime, that might change things (where having a gun would be a state law violation). To the extent a campus cop is an actual peace officer, there may be times where failure to comply with a lawful could result in separate criminal liability. Common sense would probably apply, but each situation is different.

Wouldn't that logic makes any private security (mall, movie theater, 7-11) able to confiscate your firearms if you were "breaking" their private rules? The guy in the article also has a CCW in WA.

Say, if you were visit Gonzaga (or any school in states that allowed firearms on campus) with a CCW, can their public safety officer (not even armed) stop you and take away your CCW gun based on solely "breaking school policy"?

email
11-08-2013, 5:28 PM
Gonzaga should tread lightly here. This could cost them some $$$

VictorFranko
11-08-2013, 5:30 PM
Does private security has the power to confiscate firearms?

LOL, not my firearms.

Tincon
11-08-2013, 6:11 PM
Wouldn't that logic makes any private security (mall, movie theater, 7-11) able to confiscate your firearms if you were "breaking" their private rules? The guy in the article also has a CCW in WA.

Say, if you were visit Gonzaga (or any school in states that allowed firearms on campus) with a CCW, can their public safety officer (not even armed) stop you and take away your CCW gun based on solely "breaking school policy"?

Note what I said they could punish you with if you don't comply. Getting barred from a movie theater does not have quite the same implications as getting expelled. If you don't go to school there you might not care either. Point being, school officials have a lot of power and control over students.

PhillyGunner
11-08-2013, 6:16 PM
Doesn't sound like the "officers" who confiscated the firearms were matriculated on the Spokane PD, and were merely carrying out school regulations.

I seem to remember a thread in recent months with a Colorado apartment owner who stipulated "no firearms" in their apartments and they turned tail pretty quickly when someone challenged them.

I could understand if the building they lived in was actually under the direct control and protection of the campus security, whether on or off campus, but I fail to see how anyone can lease or rent a domicile and that renter or lessee not have all of the rights and protections of any other within their domicile.

Perhaps is was considered 'campus' housing and they were not actually renting or leasing the apartment.

kcbrown
11-08-2013, 6:28 PM
Note what I said they could punish you with if you don't comply. Getting barred from a movie theater does not have quite the same implications as getting expelled. If you don't go to school there you might not care either. Point being, school officials have a lot of power and control over students.

Hmm....does that power extend to confiscation of private property? My suspicion is that it does not, but it may depend on things like contractual agreements and such.

fizux
11-08-2013, 6:30 PM
Absent being sworn officers, I don't think they have any more authority than a high school teacher seizing an unauthorized GameBoy from a student off campus.

Simi-Surfer
11-08-2013, 6:56 PM
Sounds like the students should have read the rules before bringing the guns on the property.

Librarian
11-08-2013, 7:12 PM
Volokh discusses the case here - http://www.volokh.com/2013/11/08/gonzaga-students-facing-expulsion-legally-possessing-guns-private-university-owned-apartments/

Lugiahua
11-08-2013, 7:26 PM
Volokh discusses the case here - http://www.volokh.com/2013/11/08/gonzaga-students-facing-expulsion-legally-possessing-guns-private-university-owned-apartments/

I like the comment of anyone who lives in bad neighborhood and owns gun is per-meditating on kill people...I guess that means a lot of us here. :rolleyes:

Tincon
11-09-2013, 5:20 PM
Hmm....does that power extend to confiscation of private property? My suspicion is that it does not, but it may depend on things like contractual agreements and such.

Why not? If I'm taking an exam and the teacher cells all cell phones must be turned over to prevent cheating, and I keep my cell phone, do you think they can't expel me? I'm not saying they can keep it without paying me, but I think they can demand temporary possession of it. Pretty much any reasonable thing non-discriminatory thing they ask can be a school regulation, and if you don't like it, they can show you the door.

Absent being sworn officers, I don't think they have any more authority than a high school teacher seizing an unauthorized GameBoy from a student off campus.

Right, but that may actually be some pretty significant authority (even beyond in loco parentis).

kcbrown
11-09-2013, 6:39 PM
Why not? If I'm taking an exam and the teacher cells all cell phones must be turned over to prevent cheating, and I keep my cell phone, do you think they can't expel me? I'm not saying they can keep it without paying me, but I think they can demand temporary possession of it. Pretty much any reasonable thing non-discriminatory thing they ask can be a school regulation, and if you don't like it, they can show you the door.


I wasn't sure if what we were talking about here was merely a temporary holding or if it was permanent confiscation. The latter would, I presume, be much more problematic.

The article merely says that the firearms were seized. It does not indicate if they have been returned or even if the seizing entity intends to return them.


The potential difference between the situations you describe and this one is that in the situations you describe, you can demand your cell phone back and they must return it to you immediately. They can prevent you from taking the test, of course, and can probably insist that you get off their property as well, but that's the extent of their power.

I do not know if that applies here.

mag360
11-09-2013, 10:11 PM
The responding spokane pd officer will be testifying on the young men's behalf at the school hearing. They also reported the guns as stolen by gonzaga campus police to the spokane pd.

Off the Roster
11-09-2013, 10:28 PM
it was campus housing. guess they did not read their lease.

pastureofmuppets
11-10-2013, 12:29 AM
Sounds like the students should have read the rules before bringing the guns on the property.

Also, read what they sign.

Lugiahua
11-10-2013, 12:31 AM
it was campus housing. guess they did not read their lease.

If my memories served right, Gonzaga only prohibit firearms on campus. The article claim that it was an off-campus housing owned by school.
The question would be if off campus housing are consider as "on campus" and subject to the same rule, and what is the difference between "school campus" and "school property".

sar_man
11-10-2013, 1:22 AM
I wonder if this will have bearing "Guy Montag Doe v. San Francisco Housing Authority"

Eljay
11-10-2013, 8:12 AM
If my memories served right, Gonzaga only prohibit firearms on campus. The article claim that it was an off-campus housing owned by school.
The question would be if off campus housing are consider as "on campus" and subject to the same rule, and what is the difference between "school campus" and "school property".

I know some schools (UC Berkeley specifically) considers any property they own to be part of campus even if it's not physically connected to the main campus. At one point I read the working agreement between Berkeley PD and the campus police (who consider themselves ABOVE the city police since they're state police). They both have jurisdiction in each others territory but they're basically supposed to not do anything routine in each others zone to prevent confusion, although hot pursuit is OK. You can't just run onto campus to avoid the city police or vice versa.

Cal owns all kinds of housing, administrative buildings, even places they lease out because they're not using them right now, including un built on land (people's park).

But really it does come down to do they need to show cause to expel you or not. If not they can "request" any damn thing and you had better comply. I went to a private school and I think cause only came into it in terms of did they have to refund any of your tuition for the semester or not.

OleCuss
11-10-2013, 9:32 AM
I don't think we have enough information to properly opine - except to say that trained responsible adults should be able defend themselves unless they are in a truly sensitive area.

I find it disturbing that state institutions can disarm a significant portion of their citizenry without a very good reason.

But so far as confiscating the weapon? If the officer said he was there for the gun since it was illegally possessed and the student "voluntarily" turned it over, then could it be construed under state law as the student simply gave it to the officer rather than a "confiscation"?

For me there are far too many unknowns to have any idea as to the narrowly focused illegalities in this case.

My guess is that Gray Peterson will be very quickly up-dated in this case and might lend a few more insights soon.

Zymergist
11-10-2013, 10:13 AM
As a side note on this one I am curious as to the legal possession status of a non sworn LEO taking possession of another individuals firearm without their express consent.

Librarian
11-10-2013, 11:07 AM
See also http://www.examiner.com/article/gonzaga-may-re-evaluate-weapons-policy-says-president

November 9, 2013

In a statement today [[ Nov 9 ]], Gonzaga President Thayne M. McCulloh revealed that this week’s controversy over possible sanctions against two students who discouraged an intruder at gunpoint from their off-campus apartment has opened the door for “thoughtful evaluation” of the university’s weapons policy, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported.

SmokieBear
11-10-2013, 12:15 PM
interesting. as i used to work in the privste security industry, majority of the clients worked with we cannot take any property let alone a firearm. Exceptions were working at a department of defense contracted companies but thats different scenario from this. As stated above in others posts. Usually a campus like that wouldnt have a private security firm and have a campus police officer handle that situation.

Zedrek
11-10-2013, 3:35 PM
I think that the school is going to get in trouble over this. First of all, they had no right to enter the off-campus apartment without giving proper notice as stated by state law and their own student guide. Second of all, private security does not have any rights over the general public. When I worked private security I could only "observe and report". I could make a citizen's arrest if I seen a crime being committed but it wasn't advisable. I wouldn't have handed over my firearms to them, the real cops would of had to come get them from me.

ghosttrider
11-10-2013, 8:47 PM
My daughter is a senior at Gonzaga. Word just came down that the students were not expelled, just put on probation which is bad enough, but not life altering. They are fighting the probation. The apartment is leased by Gonzaga, not owned. Guess the lawyers are going to be sorting this one out. Will let you know if I hear they get their firearms back. Here is the letter the president sent to the students the other day.



OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT






TO:


The Gonzaga University Community






FROM:


Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil., President






SUBJ:


Message from the President






DATE:


November 9, 2013






During the past forty-eight hours, there has been a significant amount of communication regarding a recent neighborhood incident involving two of our students, the institution’s policies as regards possession of firearms in campus housing, and concerns about the University’s response to this incident under its Code of Conduct. I believe it is in the best interests of our Community to utilize this set of circumstances to address several of the key issues that have arisen.



First, the University takes seriously its responsibilities under its own policies and the Family Educational Rights and Protection Act (FERPA) to preserve the privacy and confidentiality of our students. This protection includes their right to privacy as regards disciplinary proceedings and outcomes. While the specific outcome of the disciplinary hearing that took place yesterday is confidential, it is my understanding that the outcome itself was communicated to the students yesterday afternoon.



A primary obligation of Gonzaga University is to work to ensure the safety and security of its students, faculty, staff and local community. To this end, Gonzaga hires its own Campus Security and Public Safety officers, who work in close concert with the Spokane Police Department. It also employs a number of individuals, including students (e.g., Residence Hall Staff) who are designated as responsible for working with students and staff to ensure compliance with University Policies -- all of which are published, readily available, and exist to protect the health, safety, and welfare of everyone at the University.



Many of the policies promulgated by Gonzaga University exist either as a function of (a) our Mission as a Jesuit, Catholic university, (b) federal, state, or local regulations, or (c) the need to create framework in response to actual incidents which have occurred at the institution over time. Gonzaga is very similar to many other schools, colleges and universities around the country which prohibit students’ possession of firearms in campus housing facilities; the overarching objective of these is to minimize the potential for intentional or unintentional harm.



In light of the specific circumstances reported in the Gonzaga Bulletin and the press, there have been calls for a re-examination of the University’s policies relating to firearms. As a Jesuit institution dedicated to the thoughtful evaluation of complex social issues, I believe this to be an opportunity to do some important work, as a community: to objectively re-examine our firearms policy and openly debate perspectives and contextual issues with an eye towards an honest and open review of the same. Therefore, I have asked our Vice President for Student Development, Dr. Biggs Garbuio, to work in conjunction with GSBA and RHA to facilitate a campus dialogue focused on this issue. In the meantime, the Student Handbook and its Code of Conduct are in effect and all students are obligated to know their rights and acknowledge their responsibilities as established within them.



Finally, I do wish to make a point which I believe to be both relevant and important at this time. Gonzaga University is itself part and parcel of a larger community -- which includes the Logan Neighborhood, Mission Park, the University District and Downtown. A significant number of Gonzaga students live side-by-side with families and long-time residents of these areas. Just as students have a right to feel safe and secure in their residences, so too do the non-student members of the community -- a point which obligates us all to recognize that everything we do affects others. The families and long-time members of the Logan Neighborhood and Gonzaga University are important partners in the shared goal of working towards a safe living environment for all -- one we will continue to work hard at creating, every day.

sl0re10
11-10-2013, 9:43 PM
Also, read what they sign.

Not clear it actually was campus housing...

Might just be privately owned [off] campus 'approved' housing... in which case the wording of the reg they're accused of violating wouldn't apply. Early reports quoted the policy as including campus approved housing but its not in the wording of the policy quoted at the law blog link.

Tincon
11-11-2013, 12:08 AM
Just as students have a right to feel safe and secure in their residences, so too do the non-student members of the community

He means you have a right to "feel" safe, but not to actually protect yourself. :rolleyes:

tpuig
11-11-2013, 9:14 AM
My short and sweet message to the Alumni Director and President of Gonzaga....

"Not a penny, if you punish ***an and McIntosh" (the 2 students)

I graduated from GU 30 years ago and have never turned down a fundraising request. I'll be speaking with these guys at a cocktail party in Maui in two weeks. We'll see what happens.



See also http://www.examiner.com/article/gonzaga-may-re-evaluate-weapons-policy-says-president



Edit note - the software put *** instead of the students name, which is spelled " f a g a n"

JoshuaS
11-11-2013, 11:11 AM
Modern Jesuitical reasonong. Very non committal letter.

As was pointed out earlier, state laws, the policies of schools and what those policies can even entail vary widely.

My alma mater's first new rule when it moved to its current campus in the 1970's was no shooting from within the dorms, either out of windows or porches.

Now it doesn't allow firearms on campus, generally. Though when visiting after graduation they have told me it is fine if I have guns in my car, just not outside or loaded without the Dean's permission (which has been granted in the past, but not recently). But at least they provide nearby safe storage for students (one of the faculty members maintains gun safes for student storage).

When I inquired as a student, I was told the off campus policy was in response to pressure by the accrediting agencies, state officials and lawyers (legal liability).


I am myself unclear about California law. Neither my undergrad or grad had posted signs (as the PC requires). And my housing was owned by the same people who own by grad school. Was student housing. Yet several of us had guns. And the representative of the school knew about this. Only ear full I got was for cleaning it on the front porch in full view of hordes of UC students walking by. (unloaded open carry was still legal anyways). Never had any cop show up.

Both schools were in California, private and Catholic.

SMarquez
11-11-2013, 12:03 PM
Wouldn't that logic makes any private security (mall, movie theater, 7-11) able to confiscate your firearms if you were "breaking" their private rules? The guy in the article also has a CCW in WA.

Say, if you were visit Gonzaga (or any school in states that allowed firearms on campus) with a CCW, can their public safety officer (not even armed) stop you and take away your CCW gun based on solely "breaking school policy"?
They may be state LEO's if the campus is part of the state system, but I think Gonzaga is aprivate.

mjmagee67
11-11-2013, 12:16 PM
Does the State Of Washington recognize the school security offices as law enforcement. If you look in the CA penal code there are a lot of agencies that are recognized as LEO's. Think railroad police UPPD. Did the WA legislature grant them LEO status?

YubaRiver
11-11-2013, 1:00 PM
Some interesting turns.

The off campus housing is not owned by GU, but they pay the taxes on it.

The night after this happened, two students were assaulted on the same street and tho other students came to their aid, the criminals continued the assault.

The "Campo" are mostly students with flashlights and master keys. They let themselves into the student's house at 2 am to confiscate the guns. They were unable to unholster the gun so had the owner do it for them. There is no mention the guns have been returned yet. The same housing has many female students. Wonder if they have female Campo to do after midnight warrantless searches of female quarters?

I also wonder if since the students are being punished for breaking a contract, if perhaps the contract is also void as GU did not provide protection for the students?

Tincon
11-11-2013, 1:04 PM
I also wonder if since the students are being punished for breaking a contract, if perhaps the contract is also void as GU did not provide projection for the students.

Probably not, but if you think about it, taking that position isn't very good for the students. (assumed you meant protection, not projection)

sunborder
11-11-2013, 8:07 PM
Originally Posted by Simi-Surfer View Post
Sounds like the students should have read the rules before bringing the guns on the property.
Also, read what they sign.

Anything in a lease that is contrary to law can be ignored. Most leases that I have seen, not to mention HOA rules, have boilerplate in them that is either unrelated to the actual property in question, or contrary to law, and can be ignored. If a contract is illegal, it cannot be legally enforced. Most HOAs I've seen in Cali have clauses that ban "unregistered firearms." Given that there is nothing unlawful about firearms being unregistered...it's just boilerplate from a random lawyer/insurance company.

In this case, it remains to be seen if:

A. The property is considered part of the university (since it was leased).
B. Subject to the University's rules (since it was housing, not on university land).
C. The persons confiscating the weapons had any legal right to do so.
D. The university has authority to punish students for lawful possession of firearms and their use in self-defense off the grounds of the campus.

PackingHeatInSDCA
11-11-2013, 8:34 PM
I understand this university receives many grants, federal and state. If they are violating the 2A, doesn't that make them ineligible to receive any federal or state funding?

YubaRiver
11-12-2013, 3:09 PM
“From a constitutional perspective, this is an easy case,” wrote Stewart Jay, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law, in an email Monday. “Neither the Second Amendment nor any other part of the Constitution applies because Gonzaga is a private university.”


"That standard could soon be used by landlords at privately owned apartment buildings, too, said Jim Wiard, executive director of the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association, an organization representing property managers statewide. "

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2013/nov/12/gonzaga-dispute-raises-issue-gun-rights-v-property/