ACRU

Sanity at Utah: Students, Faculty May Defend Themselves

Bill Otis, my colleague here at the ACRU blog and the Director of Legal Affairs for the American Civil Rights Union, has written a number of good posts on the subject of gun control in the wake of the massacre at Virginia Tech, including:

  • “A Tale of Two Cities”
  • “Don’t Mess with Miss America”
  • “Though you drive nature out with a pitchfork, she will still find her way back”

I, too, wrote recently on Ronald Reagan’s views on the subject.

So, I won’t spend much more space making the case for the Second Amendment and our right to keep and bear arms in self-defense. But CBSnews.com reports on one university that has vowed not to make the mistake of Virginia Tech and countless other schools that have proudly made themselves “gun-free zones,” thus practically inviting would-be Chos to their target-rich and defenseless enclaves.

Here are some choice sections of the well-reported article, “Utah Allows Guns On College Campuses”:

As states and colleges across the country review their gun policies in light of the tragedy, many in Utah are proud to have the nation’s only state law that expressly allows the carrying of concealed weapons at public colleges.

“If government can’t protect you, you should have the right to protect yourself,” said Republican state Sen. Michael Waddoups.

Utah legislators and law enforcement authorities said they knew of no modern-day shootings at the university. But one lawmaker cited a shooting rampage in Mississippi in 1997 as an example of how allowing others on campus to arm themselves can improve safety: After a teenager shot two students to death at Pearl High School, an assistant principal chased the gunman down outside and held him at bay with a .45-caliber pistol he kept in his truck.

But in 2004 the Legislature passed a law expressly saying the university is covered by a state law that allows concealed weapons on state property. The university challenged the law, but the Utah Supreme Court upheld it last year.

Lawmakers point to a recent shooting at a downtown shopping mall as evidence that concealed weapons prevent additional deaths.

Armed with a shotgun and a pistol, 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic randomly shot nine people at Trolley Square, killing five, on Feb. 12. He died in a shootout with police. An off-duty Ogden police officer carrying a concealed weapon _ in violation of mall policy _ pinned down Talovic with gunfire until other police arrived.

“Thankfully that officer disobeyed the rule of Trolley Square of having no guns,” GOP state Rep. Curt Oda said.

Justin Ligon, 23, a Virginia Tech student and vice president of the school’s Pistol and Rifle Club, with about a dozen members who do their shooting at a public firing range, said the Blacksburg, Va., university should drop its prohibition on guns.

He said it is unlikely that bringing guns on campus would make school more dangerous.

“People with those permits, they go through a background check,” he said. “Generally the people who go through that trouble aren’t people who are gong to fly off the handle and do something dangerous.”