This archived article was written by: Josh Luke
The gun policy on Utah’s campuses has been a hot debate recently. The reason for this is that Utah has ordered places like offices, hospitals, parks and college campuses to let people who have concealed-weapons permits carry guns in these places.
Utah has 42,000 concealed-weapons permit holders. This may not seem out of the ordinary until you realize that the total Utah population is only about 2.1 million people in the state of Utah.
Utah State University has a policy that prohibits the students, faculty, and staff from carrying guns on campus, even if they have a concealed-weapons permit. As of yet, the state laws do not prohibit the University of Utah from making regulations on carrying guns on campus.
BYU bans guns on campus. They say they can do this because it is private property owned and run by the LDS Church.
Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada banned guns from public schools. Montana, on the other hand, will let a teacher carry a gun, but they have banned guns from all government offices. Utah lets people carry concealed weapons almost anywhere they want. This includes college campuses, office buildings and churches.
Sen. Michael Waddoups wrote Utah’s concealed-weapons law. In an article from BYU’s Daily Universe, he said, “The permit is valid throughout the state, without restriction, but it makes exceptions for primary and secondary schools, private residences, places of worship, airports, prisons and mental hospitals. The legislative intent of the bill was to allow firearms on all entitles not exempted by the law.” The new bill clarifies that concealed-carry permit holders may carry guns in schools and on school grounds. Also, it states that the 1,000-foot limit does not apply to legitimate gun possessors near schools.
The school gun ban has been considered to contradict the concealed-carry statute. The concealed-carry statute allows concealed-gun permit holders to carry anywhere on public and private property where peace officers have not set up a security point and check station where weapons can be left. But the school gun bans possession of a gun within 1,000 feet of it.
Therefore, it can be interpreted that concealed weapons – when accompanied by a current Utah concealed-weapons permit – could be permitted on college campuses.
Sen. Waddoups continued, “Universities, both public and private, are in violation of the law if they prohibit persons with concealed-weapons permits on campus,” and also because BYU is in violation of the law they should be sued for nonconformance of the law.
In the same article, Sen. John Valentine said that the law is not as straightforward as Waddoups says it is. “When you deal with private property rights it’s less clear,” he said. “There’s a balance that occurs in the constitution between your private property rights and the right to bear arms.” Sarah Thompson, executive producer for Utah Gun Owners’ Alliance, labeled this area of the law as the “gray area.”
William Smith who is the secretary for the Utah chapter of the National Rifle Association also gave his opinion in the Daily Universe article. “BYU does not have the right to ban guns because it opens itself to the public with sports facilities, museums, auditoriums, roadways and parking. Since I feel BYU has public access, I feel they do not have the right to restrict the Second Amendment.
BYU and the U of U are not the only “public” buildings banning guns. The Delta Center and the E-Center both ban guns, as do many church-owned facilities such as the Family History Library.
According to a Deseret News’ poll, an estimated 64 percent of Utah’s population feel private entities should have the right to ban guns. Also two thirds of Utah residents favor banning guns from schools and day-care centers.
CEU, on the other hand, allows guns on campus, said Chief James Prettyman. The only exception to this is at the dorms. Anyone who lives in the dorms signed a paper that they are not to carry any type of firearm on the property of the dorms, even if they do have a concealed-weapons permit. Anyone can have a gun in the parking lot unless it is concealed, in which case you have to a permit.