Guns on Campus Not a Problem in Utah

Discussion in 'In the News' started by Malum Prohibitum, Sep 4, 2007.

  1. Malum Prohibitum

    Malum Prohibitum Moderator Staff Member

    9. Stats: Guns on Utah college campuses not a problem

    Stats show few guns found on Utah college campuses
    By Sheena McFarland
    The Salt Lake Tribune
    Article Last Updated:08/27/2007 06:32:21 AM MDT

    As the debate over guns on Utah college campuses raged during the
    2007 Legislature, lobbyists on both sides quoted statistics and
    provided scenarios to prove that allowing guns would have either
    worsened or improved a hypothetical campus crime.

    But crime data obtained under the Clery Act, which requires all
    campuses to report crime statistics to the federal government, shows
    few incidents between 2001 and 2005 when weapons were found or used
    on campuses, and in those few incidents, rarely were students

    No incident reported during the five-year period involved a student
    brandishing a gun in a threatening manner, and of the 23 incidents on
    Utah college campuses involving guns, seven involved loaded handguns
    while the rest involved BB guns or paint-ball guns. The other
    incidents involved weapons that ranged from butterfly knives to brass
    knuckles to nunchakus.

    No incidents involved a legally concealed weapon.

    Such data only reinforce why gun advocates have successfully defeated
    efforts to ban concealed weapons on campuses, said Clark Aposhian,
    chairman of the Utah Self-Defense Instructor's Network.

    "Concealed weapon carriers are not people to be afraid of," Aposhian
    said. "They are simply folks who are concerned with one thing and one
    thing only: lawful self-defense."

    Yet University of Utah lobbyist Kim Wirthlin still worries about
    allowing weapons of any kind on campus.

    "Even though those statistics don't indicate that concealed weapons
    are what's causing the problems, if you have weapons, you may have
    accidental discharges," she said.

    Data gathered under the Clery Act shows the number of weapons
    incidents on campus, but does not spell out the types of weapons
    used. Individual campuses, though, were able to break down the
    incidents by weapon used and an analysis shows there were nine
    incidents involving students with guns from 2001 to 2005, though no
    one was harmed in any incident.

    The only discharge of a weapon occurred in 2004 at Brigham Young
    University when two male students fired a BB gun. During the
    2003-2004 academic year, two Westminster College students had guns
    illegally stored in their college-owned houses. One student
    voluntarily came forward and admitted to administrators he owned one
    of the weapons while the other was found during a search related to a
    separate investigation, spokeswoman Laura Murphy said.

    Though nothing occurred in those instances, Wirthlin worries about
    the availability of firearms during "intense times" of students'

    When guns are present during tense, emotional times, "situations can
    escalate," Wirthlin said. "We worry about having that on campus."

    Her reason for not having guns on campus is the same given by those
    who support allowing concealed weapons. Students and faculty members
    have the right to protect themselves during tense emotional times,
    argue Aposhian and Brent Tenney, president of Second Amendment
    Students at the U.

    "Just because there are a few crimes doesn't mean there are no
    crimes," Tenney said. "It's not unreasonable for us to want to
    protect ourselves just in case."

    The shooting spree at Virginia Tech is an example, he said, of an
    incident no one could have predicted.

    Wirthlin, though, sees the statistics as pointing to a strong
    infrastructure on campus to keep students safe and hopes campus
    security systems will help prevent such shootings.

    "We want to provide police resources and help students get help
    whenever they need it," she said.

    However, she recognizes that gun advocates are also working toward
    making campuses safer by protecting themselves with concealed weapons.

    Tenney carries a weapon not only to keep himself safe on campus, but
    because he doesn't spend his entire day on campus. Instead, he
    commutes on TRAX and spends time in downtown Salt Lake City.

    "I travel through some dangerous parts of town," he said. "If I can't
    carry on campus, I won't have my gun all day long."

    He emphasizes that statistics such as those from the Clery Act show
    concealed weapons permit holders are law-abiding.

    "Concealed weapons holders are far more law-abiding than the average
    citizen," he said. "We rarely, if ever, cause problems."


    * SHEENA MCFARLAND can be contacted at [email protected] or 801-257-8619.

    Concealed weapons at colleges:

    * The debate over guns on public university campuses in Utah erupted
    after lawmakers in 2004 passed a law allowing concealed-weapons
    permit holders to take their guns on campuses and into other
    previously gun-free areas.

    * The University of Utah sued to prevent the law's implementation and
    eventually lost in the Utah Supreme Court in 2006.

    * The U. of U. also filed a lawsuit in federal court, but agreed to
    withdraw it after the 2007 Legislature passed a bill that allows
    concealed weapons on campus but lets dorm residents choose roommates
    who do not hold concealed weapons permits.