Note foreign students' recognition of importance of gun rights.
Photo by Christine ArmbrusterBYU alumnus Ken Collins shoots a Glock 24 at Rangemasters in Springville
The June 26 Supreme Court decision to rule in favor of an individual's right to own and carry a handgun has brought attention to firearm activist groups and students. The decision came after the Supreme Court ruled a Washington, D.C. handgun ban to be unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court decision doesn't extend unlimited rights to gun owners. Some limitations apply such as those laid out in the BYU honor code's firearms policy. According to the BYU policy and procedures handbook, the use or possession of any firearm, explosives, knives or other dangerous weapons is prohibited on or near campus. There are a few exceptions such as ROTC students and members of the BYUSA shooting club.
"For self defense I think it's a good idea," said Subarna Maharjun a junior from Nepal majoring in microbiology. "[However], in Utah, especially in Provo, the crime rates are so low I don't feel the need to have a gun."
"I think everyone has the right to have a gun if they want it," said Nicole Bell a senior majoring in Latin American studies. "As a U.S. citizen you have the right to defend yourself."
People's right to defend themselves isn't the only reason students are glad the Supreme Court ruling went the way it did.
"Those who want guns for the wrong reasons are going to get them whether it's illegal or not," Bell said. "People are still going to be doing what they do."
Some students have come from places where the right to bare arms wasn't an unalienable right.
"We weren't allowed to use guns in Nepal," said Ramesh Tiwari a junior majoring in biology. "But my father is a policeman so I've used guns a little."
Governmental control of firearms has caused problems in the past.
"In the case of Pakistan, if the people had guns, the military wouldn't have been able to take over," Tiwari said. "If the government has guns and the public doesn't, it is kind of unfair. If the public has guns, the government can't exercise full power over the people."
Several groups participated in lobbying for the decision including the National Rifle Association and the open carry movement.
Open carry means to carry a gun in a holster where it can be seen and the practice has seen a rise since the movement started in 2004. The movement operates on the motto "a right unexercised is a right lost."
As well as being responsible for much of the lobbying done during this case, the NRA provides services for people interested in learning about gun operations and safety.
"There is very little fire arm training that you would want that you can't source through the NRA," said Ben Shepard, an NRA certified instructor. "You have to interpret the amendment the way it was interpreted back then - To keep, carry, hold."
Some of the classes available include security force training for police officers and the Eddy Eagle gun safety program for kids. Eddy Eagle is a mascot used to promote gun safety among kids comparable to McGruff the crime dog.
The decision comes as a relief to members of the NRA who hope it will make a difference in Utah. "I completely agree with it," Shepard said. "They finally put into modern words what's been there since the 1700s. It will make our legislature a little more leery to pass anything."