Senate passes bill restricting gun use

By Jay Logan Rogers

A bill allowing U staff to ban guns from their offices passed the State Senate on Tuesday by a narrow margin of 17 to 12.

The bill requires faculty and staff to post signs outside offices notifying visitors that guns are off-limits inside the premises. Universities are required to provide gun lockers outside these employees’ offices so that concealed weapons permit holders have some place to safely secure their weapons while visiting.

Senate Bill 251 also allows students in the Residence Halls to request roommates who do not have concealed weapons permits.

A recent court decision by the Utah State Supreme Court established that concealed weapons are legal everywhere on public university campuses. A legislative working group has been meeting with state higher education officials to create a compromise related to gun-carrying issues.

“The university system asked for academic areas to be off limits,” said Sen. Greg Bell, R-Fruit Heights. “The working group rejected that.”

Bell said gun rights advocates have complained to him about SB 251, arguing that the bill creates discrimination toward gun owners. Addressing these critiques, he said his bill does not restrict guns in any truly public places, only in private spaces such as offices or dorms.

Little opposition to the bill was raised during the Senate floor debate, despite the relatively close margin of voting.

“It’s a very reasonable approach to this issue,” said Sen. Patricia Jones, D-Salt Lake City.