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Thread: Daily Utah Chronical reports on continued refusal of Utah colleges to acknowledge sopen carry rights

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    Gun advocates seek open-carry policy

    The Daily Utah Chronical

    By: Dustin Gardiner
    Issue date: 12/6/07
    The legal fight for gun rights on campus is entering another battle. The battle now is for the right to openly carry guns around campus. The U and gun rights activists appear to be headed for another legal clash.

    Media Credit: Lennie Mahler

    The debate: whether or not concealed weapons permit holders can openly display their firearms on campus.

    Students and staff with permits have been allowed to carry guns on campus since last fall when the Utah State Supreme Court struck down the U's gun ban. After battling the state for nearly five years, administrators said they were happy to put the issue behind them when they dropped a federal lawsuit against the state last spring.

    Now, gun activists say the U is once again overstepping its grounds and imposing its own laws, but school administrators aren't budging.

    Clark Aposhian, a lobbyist for the NRA and the Utah Concealed Instructors Network, argued that because state law does not specifically outlaw permit holders from visibly carrying firearms, it is not illegal.

    "We're a nation of laws -- when you start restricting people, you better have a law to back it up," Aposhian said. "Something you can turn to. Something anybody can turn to and say this is the law you're violating. We have asked that from the university."

    However, U administrators said they are simply enforcing state law.

    John Morris, general counsel for the U, said language about concealed weapons permits clearly indicates that they are intended to be concealed on school property.

    "This exception allows a permit holder to carry a concealed weapon (on school grounds) only if it's concealed," Morris said. "The concealed weapons permit only permits you to carry a concealed weapon, it doesn't permit you to do all sorts of other things. And it's clear from other statutory language."

    State law generally allows lawful gun owners to openly carry firearms in public except in places like schools or churches. The issue is whether concealed permit carriers have an exception that would let them carry on a college campus.

    Aposhian and others have asked leadership in the Utah State Legislature to urge Attorney General Mark Shurtleff for clarification of state open carry law to clear up uncertainties, including the U's policy.

    Paul Murphy, a spokesman for the attorney general, said Shurtleff hasn't been asked to issue an opinion yet, although it is possible he might do so.

    An associate attorney in Shurtleff's office issued the U an opinion in March that supports the current policy prohibiting open carry.

    Morris requested a response from the attorney general after students in a group called the Second Amendment Students of Utah asked to host a campus gun-rights rally where permit holders could display firearms. The opinion stated that the event would be "completely inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the concealed weapon permit law..."

    Murphy would not discuss the opinion with The Chronicle because he said it is subject to attorney-client privilege.

    If the Shurtleff doesn't step in, though, state legislators might.

    Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, said that although nothing has been planned, there is potential for the Legislature to take action. He said the U is clearly violating the law.

    "I don't care where they stand on it...I'm tired of playing with them," said Oda, who has a strong record as a gun-rights advocate. "What (their interpretation) tells me is that they don't know the English language..."

    He said the U agreed to drop the gun issue when legislators agreed to pass a bill that allows Residence Hall students to request not to live with a permit holder.

    "We expected them to abide by the law and they're not," Oda said. "I think the U is completely out of line."

    But administrators insist they aren't ignoring the law.

    "We have no intention other than to abide by state law...we had a court proceeding on that," said Fred Esplin, vice president for institutional advancement. "If there's a difference of opinion here, it may be on the interpretation of this law."

    So, why do gun-rights activists want the right to keep their firearms visible?

    Some say it's a matter of convenience, because wearing a jacket or multiple layers of clothing can be uncomfortable in hot weather. Others say it is just a matter of principle.

    "I don't want to have to wear three layers of clothing when it's a 106 degrees out in the summertime because I might offend somebody," said Thomas McCrory, a senior business major. "And it's just wrong. I don't think the school has the right to draft their own legislation."

    Brent Tenney, president of Second Amendment Students of Utah, said he is opposed to the U policy about open carry because a student who accidentally displays his or her gun could be punished.

    "But I'm afraid that some kid is going to be in class and he's going to bend over wrong, and his shirt is going to come up," said Tenney, a senior in information systems. "Someone is going to notice he has a gun and that then they're going to try to expel him for open carry even though it was an inadvertent display, he wasn't threatening anybody..."

    Tenney also said his group might want to hold an open carry rally on the anniversary of the supreme court decision that overturned the U's previous gun ban.

    Esplin said visible firearms could create a sense of fear in the classroom.

    "From just a common-sense perspective, if someone shows up carrying a rifle over their shoulder or a Glock on their hip, how do you know what their intents and motives and purposes are?" he asked. "That presents an enormous dilemma just from a common-sense safety matter."

    Aposhian blames the U, in part, for sending the message that firearms are scary and dangerous. He said that if people were more educated about guns they wouldn't be afraid.

    "The University of Utah and their security task force is creating panic and fear in a place that there was none before," Aposhian said. "They have hyped up the students and the staff and faculty into having such a knee-jerk, hysterical response to the mere mention of the word 'gun,' let alone the sight of a firearm, that I have no doubt that it is very likely that if someone open carried, it's going to cause somebody to wet their pants."

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  2. #2
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    Wow, it is to bad that so many people are scared (my opinion) of sidearms. There are so many statistics and such out there that people shouldn't be worried. I think I should start amovement at UVSC. I know you can conceal there but I am under 21 so I have to open carry.

  3. #3
    State Researcher Kevin Jensen's Avatar
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    You and mazellan819 both go to school there, baybe the two of you could get together and plan something?

    Thanks for posting this article Mike !
    "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life." Robert A. Heinlein

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    Lehi, Utah, USA

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    Murphy would not discuss the opinion with The Chronicle because he said it is subject to attorney-client privilege.
    Gotta love seceret letters from the AG

  5. #5
    Regular Member possumboy's Avatar
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    I remember this from -- I believe it was there.

    The reason the letter is a secret is the fact it was done by an assistant AG who did not have the authority to write it for the AG.

    There were FIOA requests and such. Maybe a search on the Internet would provide something outside of

    Or maybe just another FIOA request of the AG's office for this secret document is needed.

    Ring a bell for anyone?

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