Trolley Square shootings intensify campus gun debate

By By Natalie Hale

By Natalie Hale

Following the recent shootings at Trolley Square, a Senate committee passed a bill to restrict concealed weapons carriers on campus.

Emotions ran high as members of the public who opposed Senate Bill 251 addressed the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Justice Standing Committee on Tuesday.

The bill would restrict firearms from selected faculty offices on campus and allow students living in the Residence Halls to choose if they would like to share a room with a concealed weapons permit holder.

The bill narrowly passed out of committee after two Democrats joined the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Greg Bell, R-Fruit Heights, to vote in favor of the proposal.

Concealed weapons permit advocates said that without the help of an off-duty police officer, more fatalities could have resulted in Monday’s shooting.

Steward White, a hunter education instructor and concealed weapons permit holder, said the incident at Trolley Square could have been prevented or stopped sooner if concealed weapons permit holders were not so restricted.

“We find ourselves confronted just (Monday) night in Salt Lake City, where a permit holder could have been the difference between life and death,” White said. “What are the chances that?in the future an on- or off-duty officer (will be there) to protect us?”

Students opposed to the bill said that it is discriminatory toward permit holders and impacts their ability to privately carry guns because it requires them to store firearms in lockers in certain areas.

Brent Tenney, a senior in business and president of the Second Amendment Students of Utah, calls the bill a “loss of anonymity” for those carrying concealed weapons.

Bell called the bill a “vanilla” piece of legislation that will do little to restrict concealed weapons from Utah college campuses.

He said it is hard to find another university where concealed weapons are allowed on campus at all.

“No one could tell us of a campus where guns were not banned,” Bell said.

“Most major educational institutions have a gun-free policy.”