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Archive for Saturday, April 28, 2007

Utah only state to allow concealed guns at colleges

April 28, 2007

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Brent Tenney displays his Glock 9 mm semiautomatic handgun on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City, where he is a student. Utah has the nation's only state law that expressly allows the carrying of concealed weapons at public colleges.

Brent Tenney displays his Glock 9 mm semiautomatic handgun on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City, where he is a student. Utah has the nation's only state law that expressly allows the carrying of concealed weapons at public colleges.

— Brent Tenney says he feels pretty safe when he goes to class at the University of Utah, but he takes no chances. He brings a loaded 9 mm semiautomatic with him every day.

"It's not that I run around scared all day long, but if something happens to me, I do want to be prepared," said the 24-year-old business major, who has a concealed-weapons permit and takes the handgun everywhere but church.

After the massacre at Virginia Tech that left 33 dead, some have suggested that the carnage might have been lower if a student or professor with a gun had stepped in.

As states and colleges across the country review their gun policies in light of the tragedy, many in Utah are proud to have the nation's only state law that expressly allows the carrying of concealed weapons at public colleges.

"If government can't protect you, you should have the right to protect yourself," said Republican state Sen. Michael Waddoups.

Utah legislators and law enforcement authorities said they knew of no modern-day shootings at the university. But one lawmaker cited a shooting rampage in 1997 in Mississippi as an example of how allowing others on campus to arm themselves can improve safety: After a teenager shot two students to death at Pearl High School, an assistant principal chased the gunman down outside and held him at bay with a .45-caliber pistol he kept in his truck.

Nationwide, 38 states - including Virginia - ban weapons at schools. Of those, 16 - including Kansas - explicitly prohibit weapons on college campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In other states, each school is allowed to formulate its own policy.

For decades, the University of Utah banned concealed weapons.

"Our view was that there was an increased risk of both accidental and intentional discharge of a firearm if more firearms are present," said spokesman Fred Esplin. "It was a matter of safety."

But in 2004 the Legislature passed a law expressly saying the university is covered by a state law that allows concealed weapons on state property. The university challenged the law, but the Utah Supreme Court upheld it last year.

Utah is easily one of the most conservative states, and the Legislature is dominated by Republicans, many of whom have a libertarian streak. Utah has no motorcycle helmet law, for example, and there is strong affection for the Second Amendment.

Lawmakers point to a recent shooting at a downtown shopping mall as evidence that concealed weapons prevent additional deaths.

Armed with a shotgun and a pistol, 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic randomly shot nine people Feb. 12 at Trolley Square, killing five. He died in a shootout with police. An off-duty Ogden police officer carrying a concealed weapon - in violation of mall policy - pinned down Talovic with gunfire until other police arrived.

"Thankfully that officer disobeyed the rule of Trolley Square of having no guns," GOP state Rep. Curt Oda said.

Some of those who work at the University of Utah said they feel more secure because concealed weapons are allowed.

"What happened at Virginia Tech might have been stopped," said Christine Zabawa, a medical researcher at the university. However, she said it is a bad idea to allow guns in dormitories, and fears an accident could happen during a party on campus.

"Alcohol and guns: It's a bad combination," she said.

Comments

kneejerkreaction 7 years, 8 months ago

One thing is certain, murderous madmen and violent criminals may think twice about fulfilling their desires at the Univ. of Utah. Now, as far as KU is concerned, the campus is still being protected from law-abiding, legal carriers of handguns. What are you guys thinking? What will it take to make KU administrators understand the real threat?

RonaldWilson 7 years, 8 months ago

The reason that kid shot up VT and all the other kids shot up their schools is simply that society does not police itself anymore. There are rules of behavior in public, we call them manners, and no one insists anymore that other people around them abide by these unwritten rules. It starts with that. If a kid can get away with bad behaviour in public because the "fuzz" isn't around, then he has no repect for his fellow man. And, if an entire generation is raised in this fashion, or a good portion of that generation is, then the really disturbed element of that portion have already overcome the fear that anyone besides law enforcement are going to correct their behavior when it is outside of societal norms. So, naturally, they have no problem shooting up strangers as they are of no consequence anyway. If we all just correct bad behaviour immediately when it occurs in public, the impression is instilled in each individual that he has a reponsibility to the others he encounters each day. For that individual knows not which common citizen may be the one to thwart his effort to do evil or unjust acts. And now, that common citizen is packin'.

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