Gunfire doesn’t solve anything

The Gun Owners of Utah (GOUtah) recently circulated an e-mail saying: “The hoplophobes and aging ex-hippies running the University of Utah are back at it?”

Apparently, the word “hoplophobe” means “a person having an irrational fear of weapons,” at least according to GOUtah (the word cannot be found in any dictionary).

Before I delve into the minds of people who think people such as William Pingree, a conservative political science professor and former Reagan administration official, and Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics and consultant to Republican Mitt Romney, are “ex-hippies,” I am first wondering what an “irrational fear of weapons” entails.

Perhaps GOUtah thinks the fact that guns claimed the lives of 28,663 people in 2000 (almost exactly the entire student population at the U) is an irrational statistic. Perhaps caring that an average of nine people under the age of 19 die every day because of gun violence is just plain irrational. According to the Center for Disease Control, gun violence is the leading cause of death for blacks between the ages of 15 and 34. It is the second-leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 15 to 24 – but alas, the Center for Disease Control is probably run by hippies, too.

The fight about the gun ban is heating up again because of a bill sponsored by Sen. Greg Bell, R-Davis, which has not even been read for the first time. Bell told The Salt Lake Tribune that the bill would allow faculty members to choose whether to allow guns in their offices and would regulate guns in the Residence Halls – requiring concealed weapons permit holders to store their weapons in school-provided lockers.

GOUtah says this bill would create a “segregated housing system” and that U administrators must not have heard that segregation was ended in the 1960s. All this talk of the ’60s makes me think GOUtah must be a little “hippy-ish.” But before you rush to buy them Grateful Dead T-shirts, also know that GOUtah is the infamous supporter of the yearly bill that tries to allow anyone (not just permit holders) to carry a loaded firearm in his or her vehicle.

I have long been a supporter of the right to bear arms. I do feel that there is a state constitutional and common law right to carry a firearm. However, that right is not unlimited. For example, not just anybody should be able to obtain weapons of grade plutonium or automatic weapons.

The U is a community. Students and faculty are the ones who live and work here everyday. Senate President John L. Valentine does not spend most of his time at the U. House Speaker Greg J. Curtis does not spend most of his time at the U. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff does not spend most of his time at the U. It’s my premonition that few of the members of GOUtah spend much time on our campus, either.

I do spend time on campus, and if anyone is to decide where and with whom guns can be carried, it should be me. Me and my fellow 28,000 students and 3,000 Birkenstock-wearing faculty members should be the ones deciding if we should have 9 millimeters and Smith and Wesson .45s on campus.

We are just about to have student body elections. Perhaps the discussion should be about guns on campus, rather than a “Student Life Center” and Redfest.

I propose that, in addition to electing a student body president, we have a campus-wide referendum on whether or not guns should be carried on campus at all. It’s our school and it ought to be our decision.