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DiGiacinto v. Rector (George Mason University)


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#1 05FLHT

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 07:07 AM

The fact that GMU is a school and that its buildings are owned by the government indicates that GMU is a “sensitive place.”
Further, the statutory structure establishing GMU is 9
indicative of the General Assembly’s recognition that it is a sensitive place, and it is also consistent with the traditional understanding of a university. Unlike a public street or park, a university traditionally has not been open to the general public, “but instead is an institute of higher learning that is devoted to its mission of public education.” ACLU v. Mote, 423 F.3d 438, 444 (4th Cir. 2005). Moreover, parents who send their children to a university have a reasonable expectation that the university will maintain a campus free of foreseeable harm. See Schieszler v. Ferrum College, 236 F. Supp. 2d 602, 606-10 (W.D. Va. 2002); Hartman v. Bethany College, 778 F. Supp. 286, 291 (N.D. W. Va. 1991).



The board of visitors is also tasked with safeguarding the university’s property and the people who use it by making “all needful rules and regulations concerning the University.” Id. Such necessary rules and regulations include policies that promote safety on GMU’s campus.
GMU promulgated 8 VAC § 35-60-20 to restrict the possession or carrying of weapons in its facilities or at university events by individuals other than police officers. The regulation does not impose a total ban of weapons on campus. Rather, the regulation is tailored, restricting weapons only in those places where people congregate and are most vulnerable – inside campus buildings and at campus events. Individuals may still carry or possess weapons on the open grounds of GMU, and in other places on campus not enumerated in the regulation. We hold that GMU is a sensitive place and that 8 VAC § 35-60-20 is constitutional and does not violate Article I, § 13 of the Constitution of Virginia or the Second Amendment of the federal Constitution.


Although I do not whole heartedly agree with the courts reasoning in defining the inside of a government building (GMU) as a 'sensitive place' simply because it is a place entrusted to be safeguarded by a government body, it at the very least differentiates between a 'sensitive place' and "a public street or park."

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#2 mstrat

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 10:55 AM

Although I do not whole heartedly agree with the courts reasoning in defining the inside of a government building (GMU) as a 'sensitive place' simply because it is a place entrusted to be safeguarded by a government body, it at the very least differentiates between a 'sensitive place' and "a public street or park."


This is pretty much the reaction I had. While the ruling is unfortunate, the court at least applied some logic and discretion into deciding where people can and cannot carry.

Compare this to IL where our legislators and courts don't stop for even a MOMENT to consider such questions. They give a knee-jerk "guns are bad. no guns anywhere" ruling. A blatant disregard for the 2nd Amendment.
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#3 lockman

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 11:03 AM

Although I do not whole heartedly agree with the courts reasoning in defining the inside of a government building (GMU) as a 'sensitive place' simply because it is a place entrusted to be safeguarded by a government body, it at the very least differentiates between a 'sensitive place' and "a public street or park."


This is pretty much the reaction I had. While the ruling is unfortunate, the court at least applied some logic and discretion into deciding where people can and cannot carry.

Compare this to IL where our legislators and courts don't stop for even a MOMENT to consider such questions. They give a knee-jerk "guns are bad. no guns anywhere" ruling. A blatant disregard for the 2nd Amendment.



The problem with the phrase "sensitive places" is that there is no universal definition for the vague reference. From a security/self defense point of view any location that does not provide secured entry with weapon screening and adequate security capable to handle an armed intrusion, may be called a sensitive location but the designation is meaningless except to render you defenseless.

A school with controlled access with weapon screening should be considered a true sensitive location if the security in place can defend against an unlawful armed intrusion otherwise the "sensitive location" prohibition is just a security facade with no load bearing properties. In other words a hollow promise of security in exchange for your liberty.

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#4 05FLHT

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 12:14 PM

The problem with the phrase "sensitive places" is that there is no universal definition for the vague reference. From a security/self defense point of view any location that does not provide secured entry with weapon screening and adequate security capable to handle an armed intrusion, may be called a sensitive location but the designation is meaningless except to render you defenseless.

A school with controlled access with weapon screening should be considered a true sensitive location if the security in place can defend against an unlawful armed intrusion otherwise the "sensitive location" prohibition is just a security facade with no load bearing properties. In other words a hollow promise of security in exchange for your liberty.


My thought is that a 'sensitive place' would be a location with secured entry/exit point that screens for weapons and employs on site security to provide (be responsible) for safety. A court house or the Springfield Capitol building come to mind first as examples of a true 'sensitive place.'

My wife recently attended a work event downtown at the United Center during a Bull's game. She made sure to leave all personal defense items home that day as she would not have any other available place to store them for the event. When I asked what kind of security they had, her reply was "pretty sh*tty." It turns out they searched her bag, but that was it. No metal detectors, no hand held wands, and in fact nothing more than a passing glance. Somebody with the intent of causing death or destruction could simply have hidden what they wanted to use under a winter coat and would have waltzed right in undetected.
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