This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2007, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
You don't want to find yourself downrange of the Utah Legislature during a fight over concealed weapons. Nevertheless, that is exactly where the University of Utah finds itself.
Last September, the Utah Supreme Court ruled that the university could not continue its campus gun ban in defiance of state law. The ruling was good law. Unfortunately, it facilitates bad policy.
The university has argued for years that its campus is a safer place if people can bring concealed weapons there only after proving their need to the police chief.
That has always made good sense to us. We understand that faculty do not want to place guns in the hands of students who might be angry about a failing grade or obsessed about a lost love.
The majority in the Legislature sees things differently, however. It argues that the university is wrong to deny its students, faculty and staff the right to self-defense if they hold a lawful permit to carry a concealed firearm. In 1995, lawmakers extended the opportunity to get a permit to anyone who does not have a criminal record, pays for a basic firearms class and ponies up a modest fee. About 79,000 people now hold Utah permits.
In the wake of its loss before the state Supreme Court, the university has opened discussions with the Legislature's leading gun-rights advocates, hoping to win concessions. It wants to be able to ban guns in dorms, classrooms, faculty offices, athletic venues and hospitals.
It would make sense to ban guns in all of these places, but if that were to occur, there would be little point in allowing concealed-carry permit holders to bring weapons to campus at all.
So why not start small. Ban weapons in dorms. As it stands, it would be hard for a resident student with a permit to store a gun safely in a dorm room. And we don't believe guns should be allowed in places where students party, get into arguments, suffer depression and, well, act like students.
Of course, we don't see a good reason to allow guns in football stadiums or hospitals, either, though we admit that we know of no harmful incident in these places involving a permit holder.
Still, we continue to believe that universities should stand for the idea that arguments should be settled by reason and evidence, not bullets. Both the law and campus policy should reflect that.