California Governor Approves Bill to Tighten Campus Gun Ban, Vetoes Sex Assault Measure

This weekend, California's Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signed into law legislation that bans carrying concealed guns on school and university campuses in the state, but vetoed a measure that would have required colleges to set tougher penalties for sexual assault, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

The sexual assault bill (AB 967) would have required colleges and universities in the state to adopt minimum punishments for those found by the institutions to have engaged in rape or forcible sex acts, including suspension for a minimum of two years and possible expulsion of students found guilty of the "most egregious" violations. The bill also called for colleges to post annual public reports about sexual misconduct complaints and investigations on their campuses.

In his veto message, Governor Brown said he agreed that such students should be punished, but he questioned whether the state should set standards in this area. "It is eminently reasonable to expect that discipline shall not vary based on a student's status as an athlete or a declared area of study," Brown said. "The bill, however, could deprive professionals from using their better judgment to discipline according to relevant circumstances." He pointed to legislation he had signed over the past year, including a law that sets "affirmative consent" as the standard for investigating assault allegations, that he said gives colleges more tools for dealing with sexual violence and other crimes on campuses.

The governor signed legislation banning concealed weapons on campuses (SB 707) on Saturday, further tightening California firearms restrictions that are already among the strictest in the nation, reported The Sacramento Bee.

Current California law makes it illegal to possess a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school or on a college campus without permission from administrators, but it exempts those with concealed carry permits. The new measure amends the law to remove that exemption.

Governor Brown's action on the bill came a week after a gunman killed nine people and injured seven more at Oregon's Umpqua Community College, and a day after deadly shootings at Northern Arizona University and Texas Southern University. Additionally, a number of colleges and universities across the country responded to threats last week, with some campuses shutting down for a day or more and others on heightened alert while reports of threats were investigated.

Campus crime experts stressed that they did not see patterns in the shootings over the last two weeks, Inside Higher Ed reported, but there is little doubt of growing concern.


Related Links

The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Sacramento Bee

Inside Higher Ed