U officials involved in another gun battle

The University of Utah is under fire for suspending two police officers who released internal protocols for handling people seen openly carrying guns on campus. The problem is that the two didn’t do anything wrong and it was university officials who should be punished for attempting to thwart the law.

Utah law generally allows the open carry of firearms. In other words if someone wants to strap an unloaded pistol on each hip and walk around downtown Salt Lake City like Wyatt Earp, it is perfectly legal. A person openly carrying a weapon does not need to possess a concealed weapons permit.

Apparently there are officials at the university (including President Michael Young) who do not like the law as established by the Utah Legislature. So they set a policy that university police were to arrest anyone openly carrying a weapon on campus if the individual did not have a concealed weapons permit. If the person possessed a permit, police were told to instruct him or her to conceal the weapon.

As state employees, U of U officials do not have the right to supersede or circumvent state laws with which they might not agree. When it comes to gun rights, however, they seem to have a difficult time grasping this concept. They claim that they have the right to regulate weapons on campus, just as they do anything else that could threaten campus security.

And they are so certain about the strength and ultimate correctness of their position that they elected to keep it secret and to punish the policemen who made it public.

If this battle sounds familiar it could be because in years past the university tried to prohibit concealed weapons permit holders from legally carrying guns on campus. That ultimately led to the state legislature passing a law that prohibits universities from establishing policies that “in any way inhibits or restricts the possession or use of firearms.”

That language seems straightforward and unambiguous–enough that even a university official should be able to understand it. And apparently they did, which is why they tried to conceal their latest effort at an end run around the legislature.

Once the matter became public, school officials reversed their secret, illegal retribution. The two officers were reinstated and no disciplinary action is being pursued, according to the university. Instead of punishment, the two officers should receive commendations for their efforts at protecting basic freedoms.

If the legal carrying of weapons on campus truly represents a safety threat, university officials who object to the state law should be able to make a compelling case to the legislature. All they need to do is cite the rapes, robberies, assaults, etc., committed on campus by law-abiding gun owners. The problem is they can’t make that case because such incidents don’t exist.

Guns on campus are only a problem in the small mindedness of select university officials who can’t accept the fact that there are limits to their authoritarian ideals.

Given the repeated attempts to circumvent the law on this matter, it’s time that the legislature sends an even stronger message to U of U officials. Perhaps they could pass a secret law that requires university administrators to become members of the National Rifle Association and to spend several hours volunteering at a community gun range.

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2 Responses to U officials involved in another gun battle

  1. Yes, A university administrators should be able to understand the laws. They should also realize that secret laws really mean no laws (authhority) at all.

  2. JBT says:

    The following are some good reasons why students openly carrying firearms on college campuses is not a good idea. Even if they do not intend to murder as many people as they can that day, those who see them on campus with a gun can’t tell. Please don’t respond with the nonsense that those who are “packing” can protect their fellow students. They are more apt to shoot one another, thinking that the other is a demented killer with a gun on campus.

    April 16, 2007: A gunman kills more than 30 people in a dorm and a classroom at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.

    Sept. 2, 2006: Douglas W. Pennington, 49, kills himself and his two sons, Logan P. Pennington, 26, and Benjamin M. Pennington, 24, during a visit to the campus of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

    Oct. 28, 2002: Failing University of Arizona Nursing College student and Gulf War veteran Robert Flores, 40, walks into an instructor’s office and fatally shoots her. A few minutes later, armed with five guns, he enters one of his nursing classrooms and kills two more of his instructors before fatally shooting himself.

    Jan. 16, 2002: Graduate student Peter Odighizuwa, 42, recently dismissed from Virginia’s Appalachian School of Law, returns to campus and kills the dean, a professor and a student before being tackled by students. The attack also wounds three female students.

    Aug. 28, 2000: James Easton Kelly, 36, a University of Arkansas graduate student recently dropped from a doctoral program after a decade of study, and John Locke, 67, the English professor overseeing his coursework, are shot to death in an apparent murder-suicide.

    Aug. 15, 1996: Frederick Martin Davidson, 36, a graduate engineering student at San Diego State, is defending his thesis before a faculty committee when he pulls out a handgun and kills three professors.

    Nov. 1, 1991: Gang Lu, 28, a graduate student in physics from China, reportedly upset because he was passed over for an academic honor, opens fire in two buildings on the University of Iowa campus. Five University of Iowa employees are killed, including four members of the Physics Department; two other people are wounded. The student fatally shoots himself.

    Aug. 1, 1966: Charles Whitman points a rifle from the observation deck of the University of Texas at Austin’s Tower and begins shooting in a homicidal rampage that goes on for 96 minutes. Sixteen people are killed, including his wife and mother, who were shot the night before; 31 others are wounded.

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