Guns banned from former prime minister’s speech

By and

Keeping guns out of a foreign leader’s campus speech wouldn’t have been a problem a year ago.

Since the Utah Supreme Court struck down the U campus gun ban last fall, guaranteeing foreign dignitaries’ safety isn’t as easy.

However, guns will not be allowed in Kingsbury Hall today when former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak delivers a speech about the Middle East.

This decision is the result of cooperation between the U, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and gun rights activists-parties that have been in conflict over the U campus gun debate.

John Morris, general legal counsel for the U, said Shurtleff gave the U permission to bar concealed weapons from the event because it is being cosponsored by Kol Ami-a local Jewish synagogue-and state law allows religious groups to ban firearms from services.

“(Barak) won’t appear if we can’t provide that kind of security,” Morris said.

Morris said the synagogue was asked to sponsor the event, in part, because its participation would allow the U to ban guns from Kingsbury Hall.

“I don’t know that they would have been involved otherwise,” Morris said. “It’s not the only reason, but clearly it has been a factor in asking the congregation to cosponsor.”

The U will set up metal detectors and provide lockers for concealed weapons permit holders to store their guns.

Gun rights activists who staunchly opposed the U’s campus-wide gun ban said that though the attorney general’s interpretation of state gun laws is a stretch, they are supporting the deal.

“Kingsbury Hall does not qualify as a religious (venue); however, we are going to accept it in the spirit of cooperation,” said Clark Aposhian, a lobbyist and director of the Utah Self-Defense Instructors’ Network.

Barak’s speech is the first in an annual World Leaders Lecture Forum hosted by the Tanner Humanities Center.

Robert Goldberg, director of the Humanities Center, said he expects banning guns from the event won’t be much of an issue.

“I would think most people would leave their guns at home,” Goldberg said.

Brent Tenney, president of the Second Amendment Students of Utah, said that while he doesn’t like the idea of guns being banned anywhere on campus, metal detectors and lockers make him more comfortable.

“If you want to ask a concealed weapons permit owner to disarm, this is the way to do it,” said Tenney, a senior in business.