MONMOUTH, Ore. - A Western Oregon University student has been suspended after a confrontation with campus security last month over a concealed firearm and knife he brought on campus.
A university student disciplinary panel determined Tuesday that 30-year-old Jeffrey L. Maxwell should be suspended until the end of the spring term despite the fact that he has a concealed handgun license.
Maxwell won't be allowed to re-enroll until a licensed mental health professional notifies the university that he is not a threat to himself or others, the panel concluded. The student must also write a 10-page paper that addresses the impact the possession of weapons on college campuses has on others as well as the importance of following the law.
Neither Maxwell, a Marine Corps veteran, nor his lawyer could be immediately reached for comment. However, the Oregon Firearms Federation, which paid for Maxwell's attorney, said the panel's decision will be appealed.
"He's being treated like a criminal when in fact the people who arrested him are breaking the law," said Kevin Starrett, a spokesman for the group. READ THE GROUP'S PRESS RELEASE
The case has drawn the ire of some state legislators, who recently wrote a letter to the university system complaining that legal gun owners' rights are being infringed upon by policies that prevent people with concealed handgun licenses from taking their firearms on public campuses.
The confrontation occurred Jan. 28 when someone called campus security after seeing a knife sticking out of Maxwell's pocket while the Lebanon man was inside the Werner University Center, his lawyer, James Leuenberger of Lake Oswego, has said.
When security officers confronted Maxwell and asked if he had any other weapons in his pockets, Maxwell told them he had a couple of other pocket knifes as well as a small handgun on him, Leuenberger has said. The handgun was a Derringer, his lawyer said. Maxwell also told them about a rifle he had in his truck parked in a lot on campus.
Maxwell, who obtained his concealed handgun license from Linn County in 2006, was criminally cited by Monmouth police for possession of a firearm in a public building.
On Tuesday, Maxwell's lawyer received an e-mail from Polk County District Attorney Stan Butterfield saying prosecutors would not pursue the criminal charge against Maxwell.
"I believe the Monmouth Police Department issued the citation in good faith and that there was an arguable violation," Butterfield wrote in the e-mail, which was obtained by KATU.com. "However, a careful reading of the statute and the facts led me to conclude the charge was not in the best interest of justice."
University policy clear
The student discipline case moved forward, however. At WOU, people are prohibited from carrying guns on campus even if they are licensed to carry a concealed weapon. The university's president has the "authority to control, manage and regulate behavior on campus," according to the policy. READ THE FULL POLICY
A spokeswoman for the university said Wednesday that the policy is the same at all of Oregon's public universities.
She declined to discuss Maxwell's suspension, saying she could not comment on conduct hearings.