Utahns have long valued the right to bear arms. They also ought to value the right private property owners and educators have to keep arms away.
Utah Senate President Lane Beattie is expected to introduce a measure soon that would allow church leaders, private property owners and public school officials to ban concealed weapon permit holders from bringing firearms into their buildings.Lawmakers, who have waited far too long to act on this issue, ought to move quickly to pass the bill. Not only would it be the right thing to do, it would be the logical thing to do. A Deseret News poll shows that 88 percent of Utahns agree that churches should be able to keep concealed weapons out, while 89 percent believe public schools should do the same.
Current laws have generated a lot of confusion. According to one, a citizen's concealed-weapon license is valid without restriction in Utah, except for airports, courts and correction facilities. According to another, weapons can't be carried on or near school property.
The LDS Church issued a statement last year saying churches should be free from the cares of the world and that weapons don't belong.
Some institutions, such as the University of Utah, already have instituted a ban on concealed weapons. Gun advocates have strongly opposed these bans, claiming they are illegal. Lawmakers need to put an end to the confusion.
While gun lobbyists don't have a problem keeping weapons out of churches and private homes, they balk at extending the ban. They promise to fight any attempt to allow public school officials to ban permitted weapons from school buildings.
Beattie says his bill would allow properly permitted gun owners to carry weapons into school driveways and parking lots, so they could drop off or pick up their children without having to leave the guns behind. But if permitees go out of their cars and into the schools, the guns would have to be locked in the vehicles.
Despite pressure from gun lobbyists, who represent a vocal minority of Utahns, legislators need to listen to the majority of their constituents and pass a new and improved concealed weapons bill.