This archived article was written by: Seth Richards
The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Utah State University, while it doesn’t necessarily infringe that right, will not tell you the extent to which you may exercise your constitutionally guaranteed autonomy with weapons.
The University of Utah has maintained that the protection of the first amendment right to free exchange of ideas and information without reason to fear or be coerced requires that firearms be removed from academic environments entirely. In March 2002, the U of U filed suit against Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who argued that the ban on weapons infringed on the rights of those who are permitted to carry concealed weapons anywhere other than legislatively determined safe zones. The result of this lawsuit is found in Utah 53B-3-103.
In an effort to maintain the integrity of Utah as a free state, the state limits the carrying of firearms in prisons, courts and airports. On the campuses of publicly funded institutions of higher education, Utah 53B-3-103 stipulates that it is the privilege of the state legislature to regulate firearms. The section gives the power to establish no more than one secure area at a college for use as a hearing room, in which firearms may be banned to the institution. Furthermore, the state code authorizes institutions to institute rules permitting residents to request roommates who do not carry currently valid concealed carry permits.
It does not mandate that all institutions must make such a rule, nor does it permit the school to require that students without concealed carry permits not keep other, potentially deadly, weapons in their residences; a right which could be interpreted from Utah 76-2-405 which permits deadly force in the protection of an individual’s habitation.
The USU Eastern residential life handbook prohibits in the residential halls, “Firearms or other weapons, per the code.” It is often stated by residential life authorities, that those wishing to keep firearms at the college may keep them in their vehicles or in the purchasing and receiving/police station.
The USU Student Code V-3 B-20 (section relating to misconduct) warns students that disciplinary action will be taken in the event of, “Illegal or unauthorized possession or use of a firearm, ammunition, explosives, weapons, or dangerous chemicals on University property.”
The CEU Code of Conduct 4.1.11 prohibits: “Illegal or unauthorized possession of firearms, explosives, other weapons, or dangerous chemicals on college premises or use of any such items, even if legally possessed, in a manner that harms, threatens or causes fear to others.”
While it is a citable offense in the state of Utah to brandish firearms or use them to threaten without cause, neither the state nor the school define “what threatens or causes fear.” It would seem safe to say that there will always be those who will fear firearms, and that by so stating in the code of conduct, USU Eastern effectively bans firearms from residential halls.
While many acquire concealed carry permits so that they may carry outside of their homes, the state of Utah recognizes the right of individuals to carry firearms without such permits in their habitations, and effectively recognizes automobiles as an extension of an individual’s habitation.
That the college, state and federal codes permit the possession of firearms on college campus by those who are not using them for intimidation or in a threatening manner, is not something that the residential life authorities will tell the student body. The college may limit open carry to law enforcement, but is not afforded the privilege of limiting concealed carry.
It is advised that members of the campus community who are licensed and choose to carry concealed firearms on campus treat them in a responsible manner and not advertise the weapons unless in immediate danger. It is also advised that individuals who choose to carry on campus, let security know about the firearms for the safety of themselves and those around them.