The state's nine colleges and universities will continue a ban on all weapons on campuses, the Utah Board of Regents reaffirmed Friday.
The unanimous vote follows a path carved by Gov. Mike Leavitt in a state rule banning state employees from carrying concealed weapons to the workplace and his stance on keeping state workplaces safe.Board members also voted to explore possible legislation allowing campuses and the regents to restrict the presence of guns and other dangerous weapons.
That would lend the weight of state law to a policy the regents passed in 1996 banning all dangerous weapons from campuses, said Cecelia Foxley, commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education. That goes for students, faculty and visitors.
"We've been concerned about the laws in this state about concealed weapons," she said. "We just think schools are no places for concealed weapons."
Leavitt has said he will call a special legislative session this fall to discuss school violence and gun-control issues unless he and lawmakers can agree on a solution beforehand.
The regents' stance also comes in preparation for that special session.
While university policy was already in place, confusion on how to apply the policy to those with concealed-weapon permits has resulted from amendments to concealed-carry laws.
The law allows concealed-weapon permit holders to carry their firearms without restriction except in places such as courts and other restricted areas.
Leavitt last March signed a new gun bill barring weapons from 2002 Winter Games venues and allowing homeowners and churches to decide whether to allow concealed weapons. The law also states only the Legislature can regulate where firearms can or cannot be carried.
But Leavitt, school districts and universities are not backing down on their policies in light of the law.
Leavitt planned to keep in place a state rule prohibiting state employees from carrying weapons to the workplace.
The Granite Board of Education in recent weeks also approved banning all weapons, including those carried with concealed weapons permits, at schools. District officials pointed to a specific schools law that bans all weapons on campuses, which they say is far more specific and therefore prevails over the concealed-carry law.
Public education officials and the PTA have been fighting for years to ensure a clear ban on all weapons in schools, including concealed weapons. Regents did not seek to address the issue in the last Legislature.
While Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, has said such policies are blatantly against the law, there have been no legal challenges to them.
Regent David Jordan said the regents will continue their policy unless the Legislature states otherwise in the special session.
Guns on school campuses have been thrust to the forefront of national media coverage after the Colorado shooting at Columbine High School that ended in the deaths of 12 students and one teacher and the apparent suicides of the two student gunmen. A rash of violent threats and school shootings preceded and followed the Columbine tragedy.
Shootings at the LDS Family History Library and KSL-TV studios brought the issue home.
"I suspect there's a better chance of legislation because of those incidents," regents chairman Charlie Johnson said.