Shurtleff is Concealing the Truth About GunsShurtleff is Concealing the Truth About Guns

By Harper, Shannon

As college students attend classes every day, they carry the bare necessities: Paper, pens, books and the occasional calculator and exam booklet. I am almost certain the majority of students at the U have never considered a concealed firearm a necessity for college education. Imagine sitting in a classroom with students carrying a legal, yet dangerous weapon. Trust is hard to come by and no one can discern intentions. Suddenly, learning goes out the window and anxiety sets in. You are now in an armed camp.

Guns have no place in a classroom. The present gun ban on campus eliminates the possibility of crimes committed with guns, promotes a feeling of overall well-being and allows students the freedom to focus on learning without fear.

According to state Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, the state Legislature, by state law, has sole power to regulate gun policy. “Whatever autonomy (the U) has is what the Legislature chooses to give (it),” he said. Shurtleff claims the U’s weapons ban is illegal because it doesn’t recognize the right of concealed weapons permit holders to carry arms anywhere in the state other than legally defined “secure areas,” such as prisons, courts and airports.

Shurtleff and gun lobbyists maintain that guns stop crime and protect students.

“There is plenty of evidence to suggest that more guns equals less crime,” Shurtleff said. However, the U filed suit against Shurtleff in March, arguing that allowing guns on campus would compromise student and faculty safety, and banning guns on campus protects the First Amendment right to academic freedom.

“The issue of guns on campus goes to the heart of academic enterprise?The firearms policy at the U is central to the academic mission of the U,” U attorney Alan Sullivan said. The case just recently went to trial on Oct. 2. District Judge Dale Kimball has yet to make a decision about whether or not to dismiss the case.

What Shurtleff has forgotten is that the Constitution of the United States is supreme over any ridiculous state gun law. He insults and devalues constitutional freedom with his refusal to acknowledge the importance of one of our most basic rights.

The First Amendment gives students the right to academic freedom. They can walk onto school grounds and freely exchange ideas without threats of coercion or intimidation. Does intimidation not go hand in hand with a firearm? When someone has the ability to end your life with a slip of the trigger finger, your ability to learn is seriously compromised. Ignorance with a twist of redneck reigns supreme in Mr. Shurtleff’s thinking.

Another issue in this case is whether or not guns will reduce crime rates. In the past three months, the large majority of crimes reported on campus were only minimally serious, involving illegal alcohol possession or theft of some kind. No one involved in the crimes used a gun to commit them. With the exception of theft, the majority of crimes committed on campus happened during night hours when most students were at home or in their dorms?not during morning and afternoon hours when students are on campus. Violent crimes such as assault, murder and rape occur less often.

So why the fuss about concealed firearms when there’s no need for them?

Obviously, then, there are no advantages to having guns on campus, but there are huge drawbacks. If people carry concealed weapons, they have the ability to wreak havoc on innocent people.

Shurtleff and other zealous gun rights advocates would like the public to believe that concealed weapons carriers are all law-abiding, upstanding citizens and that few, if any, violent crimes are traced to them.

Do these people choose to ignore facts or are they just illiterate? According to Utah’s Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI), four people in the last eight years have had their licenses revoked for committing murder. At least two of these guns were legal. Another had his permit cancelled for attempted homicide with a firearm and a second person’s permit is in jeopardy for a pending attempted murder charge. What is even more disturbing is that since 1994, 584 concealed-weapons permits have been revoked. Law-abiding gun-carrying citizens? I think not.

If this doesn’t prove the absurdity of allowing guns on campus, then take a look at only a few of the appalling crimes committed with permitted firearms. Twenty-two people have had their concealed firearm permits revoked for rape or sexual assault, three for aggravated assault, three for burglary and nine for drug convictions. Perhaps these individuals’ background checks didn’t spark any warning flags, but there were 156 revocations for domestic violence convictions of protective orders, including two for domestic violence with a weapon. Thirty-nine people had their licenses stripped for weapons offenses?12 for threatening or brandishing, seven for assault with a deadly weapon, one for aggravated assault with a firearm and five convictions for carrying a concealed weapon in a restricted area. Nineteen people lost their permits due to mental problems.

Gun permits are easy to come by. If concealed weapons are allowed on campus, the likelihood they will be used to commit crime is a reality.

U students shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll be alive at the end of the day. Law-abiding, gun-carrying citizens should reserve their guns for use outside of the campus. Their guns are not welcome here.

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