The University of Utah's president asked school trustees yesterday to help thwart possible legislation allowing the open display of firearms on campus, a move that could reopen a contentious debate between educators and lawmakers over gun policies, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. At stake are the university's ability to attract top faculty as well as its contribution to the state's economic development, Michael Young told trustees.
“This needs to be a higher-education issue, not a University of Utah issue,” said attorney Randy Dryer, who chairs the trustees board, which includes many politically connected businesspeople. Guns on campus have been a long-simmering issue in Utah. After a contentious legal wrangle, the university was forced to allow concealed-weapon permit holders to be armed on campus. University authorities drew the line at open carry, attracting the ire of gun-rights advocates. “They don't have the ability to restrict to open carry. The only thing they can restrict is the discharge of firearms,” said Rep. Curt Oda. The issue reignited last week after the university suspended two campus police officers with pay for releasing internal protocols that guide the handling of people who openly carry guns.