University administrators and gun-rights advocates celebrated the passage of a bill that would allow dorm residents to choose to room with a non-gun carrier.
SB251, sponsored by Sen. Greg Bell, R-Fruit Heights, originally allowed faculty members to restrict guns in their offices. However, the House amended that provision out of the bill.
“We'd like more, but the political realities weren't going to allow that to happen,” said Kim Wirthlin, University of Utah lobbyist. “Our primary concern is the safety of students, and this bill addresses that.”
She, with other representatives from the Utah System of Higher Education, met with pro-gun legislators to create a compromise bill regarding the regulation of guns on public campuses.
The U. had filed a lawsuit for gun control on campus that was defeated in the Utah Supreme Court last fall.
U. President Michael Young stayed quiet on the issue, instead allowing the entire higher education system to work on a compromise.
A federal lawsuit remains active, but Wirthlin said the U. will drop the lawsuit with the passage of the bill.
“I'm pleased the U. is keeping its word,” said Clark Aposhian, chairman of Utah's Department of Public Safety Concealed Carry Review Board. “If this bill had allowed faculty to ban guns, it would have been the only state entity that could ban guns by rule without assurances of compliance, such as metal detectors.”
Wirthlin said while some faculty have complained about allowing guns on the U. campus, “it's a perception problem, and when this issue isn't at the front and center, it won't be a problem in recruiting.”
Two other gun-related bills, sponsored by Lehi GOP Sen. Mark Madsen and passed by the Senate, died in the House without debate on the session's final night.
One would have stopped private businesses from restricting guns in their parking lots, and the other would have barred government from seizing guns in an emergency.