AP Photo | Steve Helber
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli should have been a barber. Because the legal hair-splitting his office is engaging in this days is taking that avocation to an entirely new level.
Perhaps it’s that Cuccinelli feels desperate to make amends to the gun crowd for the drubbing they gave him when he supported George Mason University’s right to ban handguns — including concealed ones — in classroom buildings, dorms, at campus sports events and other places.
So now he’s come out with a new opinion that says the University of Virginia’s ban on firearms in its hospital and on its hospital grounds does not apply to permit holders who carry concealed.
The reasoning is set forth as a letter the AG sent Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta, on Friday. It boils down to the difference between “regulation” and “policy.”
George Mason, he writes, adopted a “regulation” banning all guns in certain places on campus, and a regulation has the force of law.
UVa, on the other hand, adopted a mere “policy,” and policies do not have the force of law. When a policy conflicts with a state law, (in this case Virginia’s concealed handgun permit law) the law always trumps the policy. Or something like that.
Which means, Cuccinelli writes, that permit-holders are within their rights to carry concealed in contravention to UVa’s policy. But open carriers must follow the university’s policy, unlike concealed carriers.
The implications of this are pretty interesting. For example, Virginia Tech’s ban on guns also seems to be a policy.
(UPDATE: Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker has confirmed that Tech’s gun ban is a policy, and that efforts are now beginning to change that into a regulation).
It also should be noted that it was Cuccinelli, as a state senator, who in 2009 introduced legislation weakening the state’s concealed handgun permit law, so that almost any non-felon or non drug addict could qualify for a concealed carry permit by watching a 1-hour online video about handguns.
Cuccinelli introduced that law after a guy who markets that $39.95 online video gave Cuccinelli a $1,000 contribution for his attorney general’s campaign.
You’ve got to wonder what’s coming next – a bill in the General Assembly forbidding state colleges and universities from adopting regulations with regard to firearms on campus? Kind of like what they did this year with local governments and air rifles?