As is commonly the case when the issue is guns, last week's column about the University of Utah's civil disobedience in refusing to comply with the recently passed state law (which allows firearms on the school's campus as long as the person carrying them has a concealed weapons permit) sparked a good deal of reader response.

What was surprising was the almost total lack of defense of the university.

Only one writer took up the U.'s cause that its constitutional rights have been usurped by the Legislature, thus giving the school's Board of Regents the right to thumb their nose at the law. "The University is asserting rights . . . which supersede the laws enacted by the Legislature," the e-mail stated.

Dozens of others piled on the other side of the debate, wondering why the University of Utah doesn't have to work within the system like the rest of us.

"The law is the law," wrote one e-mailer. "Change it if need be, but until then obey it."

Another e-mail, from a man who listed his address as "The Peoples Republic of California," said: "The argument is not if guns are right or wrong, or if they belong on campus. The argument is following or not following the law. And if it is a bad law, change it."

Still another: "The situation at the U. really ceased to be about guns quite some time ago. As it does on topics that affect all of us, the Legislature has spoken, passed a law, and that law should be obeyed, especially by government employees, including those at the U."

And on and on:

"This 'it's OK for me, but not for you' attitude when it comes to following the laws of our state is embarrassing!"

"I agree with the university on the question of gun control, but I do not agree with its current stance on compliance. It should abide by the law while its appeal is pending. That would send the right message."

"I've never as much as held a gun, but I hold the Constitution as a sacred and divine document that must be upheld."

Some went for the jugular as far as the U. of U. Board of Trustees is concerned:

"Any public officials who repeatedly and deliberately defy the clear language of the law (now made even clearer so that even a Ph.D. or JD can understand it) and wastes scarce tax dollars intended for higher education to engage in legalistic challenges is unfit to serve in any position of public trust. I would hope to see the Editorial Board (of the Deseret Morning News) call for the resignation (or dismissal) of the entire Board of Trustees."

"I just wonder why no one in power has arrested the (members of the) Board of Trustees that are in open disobedience to the law."

"I'm sick and tired of the U. thinking they have no obligation to obey the law when the rest of us have to abide by it regardless of the issue. I think it's time for the governor to call for the resignations of the trustees starting with Jake Garn. It's hard for me to fathom an ex-senator intentionally disobeying the law. To me, this is the only reason needed to force his resignation and let the issue die."

And finally, one person went outside the herd to pose this question:

"I just don't understand why guns on campus (or at church) make any difference. To my knowledge, there has not been a single shot fired on any Utah campus or any church in my lifetime. Is that because no person with firearms has been in those locations or have the 'bad guys' been scared off by not knowing who is packing a gun? Either way, because there have been no incidents, somehow to me the whole debate is nonsense. It just doesn't matter. What am I missing?"


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.