After many settlement conferences and a third attempt at mediation, a trial to determine whether a ban on concealed weapons at the University of Missouri conflicts with the state constitution will go forward, attorneys told Boone County Circuit Judge Jeff Harris Monday during a pretrial hearing.
The bench trial is set for Aug. 14 and 15, with a final pretrial hearing on Aug. 12. Harris told attorneys he schedules two pretrial conferences in order to touch base and take care of any remaining issues.
The University of Missouri has a rule prohibiting concealed guns on campus, including keeping them in a personal vehicle. Two lawsuits seeking to overturn the rule have been combined. Royce Barondes, an MU law professor, sued the university in 2015, claiming the rule violates his constitutional rights and a state law that allows for a gun to be stored in a vehicle’s passenger compartment.
A second lawsuit was filed by the Missouri Attorney General’s office in 2016. The state contends that the university rule doesn’t meet a requirement of “strict scrutiny” in Amendment 5 from 2014, which strengthened gun rights in the state, because it provides no recourse for concealed-carry permit holders.
In a partial victory for the university, Harris ruled last year that the university’s rule doesn’t conflict with state law. The question of if the rule conflicts with the Missouri Constitution’s protection of gun rights remains to be decided in the trial.
The attorneys were in the courtroom by telephone conference call. The Aug. 12 hearing will also be conducted by conference call.
Dean Sauer, with the Missouri Attorney General’s office, told Harris there had been many attempts at settlement and three attempts at mediation.
“I think we intend to go forward with the trial,” Sauer said.
Motions Harris will hear on Aug. 12 include those filed by the state to limit the expert testimony of John Donohue about his opinions of a report produced by a state expert witness and opinions related to research on the relationship between crime levels and conceal-carry laws.
The state also seeks to exclude testimony of MU Police Chief Doug Schwandt. The university’s attorneys filed opposition to limiting the expert testimony. In the motions, both sides said they don’t intend to offer any expert testimony from University of Missouri System President Mun Choi, or former Interim President Mike Middleton.