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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 31Jan02
By Paul Carter
Download to My Handheld!

Utah Laws Require Schools, Maybe Even BYU, to Allow Guns

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- On January 1, Governor Mike Leavitt's order took effect that all Utah state agencies abolish bans against carrying concealed weapons on state property. The order has brought bans by Utah's universities to the debate floor of the Utah State Legislature and has Mark Shurtleff, the Attorney General for the State of Utah, currently researching whether BYU and other private universities in the state can be required to allow guns on campus. He has already stated that Utah law is clear with regard to state-owned universities and state buildings: they cannot ban guns being carried by those doing so legally.

Utah laws regarding permits for carrying concealed weapons are referred to as "shall issue" laws, meaning that if someone requests a permit to carry a concealed weapon, the state shall issue the permit unless a compelling reason is found not to do so. Most other states that allow the issuance of concealed weapon permits require the requester to present a justifiable reason for carrying a weapon before a permit is considered. 42,000 concealed weapons permits have been issued in Utah which has a population of approximately 2.1 million.

Further, under Utah law, carrying a gun cannot be banned in any location throughout the state except for airports, jails, mental institutions and churches. For a church to ban the carrying of weapons, a notice must be posted at the entry to the building stating that weapons are not allowed on the premises. The LDS Church has generally posted such notices. Most other properties throughout the state are required by law to allow guns to be carried legally.

It is in this environment that gun rights advocates are asserting their ability to carry guns where they understand the law to allow them to do so. A high profile, state-owned property system is the university campuses. Bernard Machen, the President of the University of Utah, is standing by the school's policy of not allowing guns to be carried onto campus by teachers, students, or visitors. Attorney General Shurtleff is telling the state universities that they must comply with Utah law and remove their bans.

Many Utahns are weighing in on the debate, which is currently before state legislators. President Machen of the University of Utah is leading the state schools' defense of their bans. He states emphatically, "Classrooms, libraries, dormitories and cafeterias are no place for lethal weapons." A columnist for the University of Utah student newspaper, John Morley, writes: "The notion that students need a weapon capable of administering death at any moment just to feel safe is paranoid and poorly grounded. Its sets the whole campus on edge and undermines the education mission." Former Utah Senator Jake Garn is in favor of banning weapons from schools. He is a trustee of the U of U.

Attorney General Shurtleff, meanwhile, is trying to clarify his role in the debate: "People want to paint me as a gun nut. I don't make the policy. I'm just enforcing the law."

But while the state schools are the focus of the current debate, the law does prohibit banning of guns from almost all locations throughout the state. Other high-profile properties are also involved in the current right-to-bear-arms fray. The Delta Center, home of the Utah Jazz pro basketball team and the venue for Olympic figure skating is in the sights of advocates of the right to bear arms. A tentative agreement seemed to have been reached that would have allowed gun owners to bring their guns to Olympic venues, keeping them in locked boxes on the sites. But the Secret Service has stymied those plans under the heightened security since September 11th for the games.

Winton Aposhian, legislative liaison for Gun Owners of Utah has stated, "Delta Center is in defiance of our law right now. We'll deal with them next, after we're done with the universities."


Utah Colleges Fight to Keep Weapons Out
New York Times 25Jan02 T3
By Timothy Egan


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