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Utah Gun Laws Provide Interesting Case Nationally

By    |   Saturday, 20 December 2014 12:26 AM

Utah gun laws have been getting national attention for rules that made it impossible for a publicly-funded state university to take steps to protect a guest speaker in October.

In Utah, a concealed carry permit holder can bring a gun into a public school.

That means a university cannot prevent lawful citizens who have a permit from taking a gun to class. The law caused a problem that's received national scrutiny and a petition created and signed by residents who want to see changes to the school gun law.

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The situation was sparked when Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist and media gaming critic, was scheduled to speak at Utah State University. The school received an email threat of a mass shooting attack if the event was not canceled.

Utah gun laws make it legally impossible for university officials to do any sort of screening for firearms.

Sarkeesian canceled her mid-October talk, telling Salt Lake City Fox News 13, "I have had threats at other events, and each time that happens I take it very seriously, and usually the location I’m speaking at takes it very seriously. So this was the first time I had ever declined to do an event."

After Sarkeesian canceled, a Utah group gathered and delivered a petition to the governor’s office calling for stronger rights for universities to make rules about guns on campus. Twenty-thousand people signed the petition to give state universities the right to perform gun searches before events.

However, state statute strictly regulates changes to Utah gun laws when the proposed rule changes come from an entity other than the state Legislature. The same is true in a number of other states.

A Utah state constitutional provision protects citizens' rights to bear arms. It reads: "The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the state, as well as for other lawful purposes, shall not be infringed, but nothing herein shall prevent the Legislature from defining the lawful use of arms."

The Sarkeesian affair opens up an interesting case for Utah's state colleges and universities.

Utah State officials had come up with a security plan which included banning all bags to the event, but still had to follow state laws and could not tell people who had a concealed carry permit they could not bring their firearms. It also meant that no metal detectors could be used to screen those who wanted to attend.

"We added officers, both uniform and undercover, and we were going to empty the room and sweep the room [for bombs]," university spokesman Tim Vitale told The Washington Post.

Utah gun laws were enacted to protect its citizens' Second Amendment rights. State legislators are focusing on making the gun laws more permissive.

This article does not constitute legal advice. Check the current gun laws before purchasing or traveling with a firearm.

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Utah gun laws have been getting national attention for rules that made it impossible for a publicly-funded state university to take steps to protect a guest speaker in October.
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Saturday, 20 December 2014 12:26 AM
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