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"This bill represents a balance of rights of gun owners and the desire of students who choose to live in a gun-free environment in their dormitories," said Mike Mower, the governor's spokesman.
The bill represented a compromise between pro-gun legislators and higher education leaders. Originally, the bill included a provision allowing faculty to prohibit concealed weapons in their offices, but that provision was dropped on the last night of the Legislature in order to persuade reluctant members of the House to approve the bill.
"We commend the parties for working together in reaching this accord," Mower said.
Both pro-gun groups and the higher education system said the bill should end a drawn-out fight over guns on campus.
Most universities had policies banning guns before a 2004 Utah law allowed those holding concealed weapons permits to carry guns on campuses and in other previously protected areas.
The University of Utah sued over the law and eventually lost in the Utah Supreme Court last fall. A federal lawsuit still is pending in the matter, but the U. has said it will drop the lawsuit now that Huntsman has signed the compromise bill.
- Sheena McFarland