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Controversial legislation restricting concealed weapons on state college campuses became a flash point Tuesday as emotion over Monday night's Trolley Square shooting boiled over during public comment on the bill.
SB251, which passed out of a Senate committee Tuesday, would allow dorm residents to choose a roommate who does not carry a concealed weapons permit and would give universities and colleges the right to restrict concealed weapons in faculty offices.
But such rules may have caused the high number of deaths at Trolley Square, argued Larry Correia, chief financial officer of Fuzzy Bunny Movie Guns store in Draper.
"How many people left their firearms home Monday night because they were afraid of violating a rule," he said, referring to the signs at Trolley Square prohibiting firearms.
Stuart White, a gun owner from Spanish Fork, agreed.
"[Monday] night, a concealed weapons permit holder came to the defense of defenseless residents, but what are the chances an off-duty officer will be around?" he asked, choking back tears and adding that students should be given the right to carry concealed weapons on campus.
To carry or not to carry? Which philosophy would have made a difference?
The debate between gun-control advocates and gun-rights supporters is a familiar aftermath to any outburst of gun violence in America.
In the wake of Monday's murderous rampage at Trolley Square, those questions are again confronting law-abiding members of a sometimes violent society.
"When things like this happen, some think maybe we ought to have no guns in society, and some think everyone should have one," said Steve Gunn, board member of Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah. "It all depends on your perspective."
It appears as though off-duty Ogden police Officer Kenneth Hammond, who carried a concealed weapon, stopped the killing spree, said Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council.
Aposhian noted that it is impossible to know whether a concealed-weapon holder could make a difference in every violent confrontation.
"But we do know what happens when there is no one with a concealed weapon in these situations: people die."
Aposhian spent Monday fielding telephone calls from individuals and groups seeking information on concealed-weapons permits.
''You won't hear the gun-rights community say, 'Everyone needs to get a gun permit.' That wouldn't be right,'' Aposhian said. "But people who never before desired a firearm now want to get a permit. These are moms and dads."
Those on the other side of the debate, however, say more guns make us less safe.
"I'm not comfortable arming our entire country for protection - that's a paranoid notion," said Gary Sackett, a Gun Violence Prevention Center board member.
"You can't protect against every madman with a firearm or a hand grenade. That sort of thing is going to happen from time to time."
Homicide and suicide rates in countries where gun ownership is restricted - like Japan, Canada and the United Kingdom - are a fraction of the U.S. rate, Sackett said.
"If we arm everybody, we are a lost society. And most Western countries have figured that out."
But gun advocate Charles Hardy said that concealed weapon holders aren't "Rambo wannabes" and would flee rather than shoot it out. But in a situation like the one at Trolley Square, it could give a victim "a fighting chance," rather than being a "sitting duck."
Hardy, the public policy director for Gun Owners of Utah, said a concealed-weapon permit is "something every adult needs to consider."
For Dee Rowland, chairwoman of the Gun Violence Prevention Center, however, that statement is "absurd." ''Even my 9-year-old grandson said, 'How could that help?' ''