Michael Mitchell was a anesthesia technician at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center when he was discovered to have possession of a loaded semi-automatic pistol in his automobile. The gun was licensed and he had a concealed weapons permit. In April of 2009, the University fired him for violation of its no guns on campus policy. Mitchell, an at-will employee, brought an action for “wrongful termination” for violation of his constitutional rights to bear arms and his rights under Kentucky statutes. Kentucky, like most states recognizes an exception to an “at will” firing where the firing has been the result of a violation of the clearly expressed public policy of a state. Mr. Mitchell’s suit was dismissed on summary judgment and he appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court which reversed.
In Mitchell v. University of Kentucky, 2010-SC-000762 TG (04/26,2012), the Supreme Court opted not to decide the case on constitutional grounds but instead attempted to harmonize various Kentucky statutes which permitted post secondary schools to control the possession of firearms on its property and a number of statutes supporting the right to bear arms. One of the provisions that the court considered was RS 527.020(8) which applies generally to all persons:
A firearm or other deadly weapon shall not be deemed concealed on or about the person if it is located in a glove compartment, regularly installed in a motor vehicle by its manufacturer, regardless of whether said compartment is locked, unlocked, or does \ not have a locking mechanism. No person or organization, public or private, shall prohibit a person from keeping a firearm or ammunition, or both, or other deadly weapon in a glove compartment of a vehicle in accordance with the provisions of this subsection. Any attempt by a person or organization, public or private, to violate the provisions of this subsection may be the subject of an action for appropriate relief or for damages in a Circuit Court or District Court of competent jurisdiction.
The court determined that the right to possess firearms under Kentucky statutes out gunned the statutory right of a college to control possession of firearms on its property, at least where the gun is kept in an automobile. Something to consider in the enforcement of anti-gun provisions in hospitals in red states.