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Judge to issue decision soon in college guns suit

MOSCOW — A North Idaho judge plans to issue a written decision soon in a college student’s lawsuit challenging a policy that restricts firearms on his campus.

University of Idaho law student Aaron Tribble’s lawsuit calls the policy an illegal infringement on the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. Second District Judge John Stegner heard oral arguments earlier this week.

Stegner said after the hearing that he would issue a written decision in the case “as quickly as I can,” the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported.

Tribble, who is representing himself in the case, claims he should be allowed to keep guns and ammunition at his residence in a campus housing complex for students who are married and with children. Tribble argues that the university’s policy is unconstitutional and filed a civil suit in January.

In his lawsuit, he contends the policy violates his inalienable right to “enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; pursuing happiness and securing safety” as stated in the Idaho Constitution.

“I believe it naturally follows that a person cannot effectively defend life or property without the ability to keep and bear arms, especially in the home,” Tribble said during oral arguments in a Moscow courtroom Wednesday.

The university bans firearms on campus, but students are allowed to store and check out their guns at a police substation on the Moscow campus in northern Idaho.

Earlier this year, a state senate committee halted legislation that would have prohibited schools from banning firearms anywhere except in undergraduate residence halls.

University general counsel Kent Nelson said that when Tribble entered into an agreement to live on campus, he agreed to waive certain rights.

“He promised the university he would not bring his weapons onto the housing premises,” Nelson said.

After filing the lawsuit earlier this year, Tribble voluntary entered into a new housing contract to remain living in his on-campus residence for another year, said Nelson, who also emphasized that students are not required to live on campus and Tribble could have secured housing elsewhere in Moscow.

“We are not the only source of housing, and we don’t require Mr. Tribble to live on campus,” Nelson said.

Tribble is not the first student to challenge the legitimacy of the university’s rules for firearms.

Al Baker, a third-year UI law student and the Idaho director of the Students for Concealed Carry organization, has been working to overturn campus bans. He has said that he supports Tribble’s efforts to fight rules targeting on-campus family housing.

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