This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
It doesn't take a genius to know you can't tote your .40-caliber Glock through the metal detector at Salt Lake City International Airport. It does take a book of statutes to decipher the no-guns-allowed sign at the airport door, though.
It implies that you can't pack inside the terminal, but it lists a state law that says you can.
"The average citizen has to be a lawyer or a mind-reader to figure out what that sign means," said Mike Stollenwerk, a Virginia-based gun-rights advocate who has asked the airport to remove the signs. Utah gun owners likewise complain of the mixed message, and some proudly ignore the warning.
That's their right, and no one is stopping them, airport officials say.
"The public area - the ticket counter, terminal, lobby - is public," city airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann said. "The laws that apply to public areas apply there."
The law mentioned on the sign, Utah Code 76-10-529, allows concealed-weapons permittees to carry their guns as permitted and most everyone else to carry in plain sight, with an empty chamber, in most public places.
Anyone strolling out of the short-term parking garage toward the sliding glass doors by the car rental desks learns that smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of the entrance and it's a "prohibited area for all weapons." Except, as airport officials acknowledge, the prohibited area doesn't start until passengers walk past the baggage claims and ticket counters and queue up for the security checkpoint.
The signs alert people early so they won't walk into a problem, Gann said. Though Stollenwerk e-mailed the airport about the confusion, Gann said there's no plan to change.
Kevin Jensen is a Utah member of Stollenwerk's opencarry.org Internet community, and he gladly responded when Stollenwerk put out a call for a local to photograph the premature signs for his Web site. He, with his Model 23 .40-caliber Glock, and wife Clachelle, with her Model 26 Glock 9 mm, stood smiling by the door as his sister-in-law snapped a shot of them last month.
Jensen sees the signs as a nuisance to the uninformed, but he knows better. He arms himself for airport trips because he believes that supposedly gun-free zones are dangerous. "When someone has posted that they don't allow weapons, criminals see that as an opportunity," he said.
That hypothetical criminal is a bogeyman to Steven Gunn of the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah. He knows state law allows guns into the airport, but he wishes it didn't. There are plenty of authorities with guns at the airport, he said.
"If you've got a concealed weapon, don't try to protect me," he said. "I'll take my chances with the security forces."
Clark Aposhian of the Utah Shooting Sports Council said he plans to visit the airport and ask again for the signs' relocation.
"If I'm going to pick up folks or drop off my wife at the airport, I carry a firearm wherever I go," he said. "It's the law. I obey the law, and I expect the state and municipalities to know and obey the law."