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where there's smoke: A building under construction next to the Logan Police Station caught fire from a welder's spark. Damage was estimated at $50,000. / Photo by Gideon Oakes

Today's word on journalism

August 27, 2008

On protests at political conventions:

"The citizens of Denver and St. Paul, and Americans everywhere, should hope officials in those cities already have considered both the constitutional and monetary costs of silencing voices that have a right to be heard. . . . Well-expressed or wacky. Irritating or illuminating. Respectful or raucous. There's nothing in the 45 words of the First Amendment that sets out any such qualifications or limits on protests. Time and again in our history, from women's suffrage to civil rights to tax protests, to name just some, voices first raised in the streets -- to the disgust or disappointment of some -- have led to significant, positive changes in law and American life."

--Gene Policinski, executive director, First Amendment Center, 2008

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Carrying a gun, legally, just part of daily prep for some USU students

By R.M. Monk

May 12, 2008 | UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY -- One No. 2 pencil -- check; two textbooks -- check; one 9mm semi-automatic pistol with 30 hollow-point rounds of ammunition -- check.

Time for class.

For one USU graduate student who wished to remain anonymous -- we'll call him Bill -- this is his daily routine, and he's not alone.

Bill said he knows personally about 50 other students who have their own conceal carry permits. When you realize the concealed firearms permit course is always full—about 20 people, he said—and the class is offered every month, the numbers work out to be close to 240 a year. He also said that when he took the class, out of all the college-aged attendees, he was the only male. It's something people don't usually think about, said bill, but a lot of USU women keep a gun in their purse.

These students represent a nation wide culture shift to allow concealed carry of firearms on U.S. colleges. So far, Utah is the only state that allows students to carry concealed firearms on its public campuses. But after events like the Virginia Tech massacre and the North Illinois University shooting that left six dead, neighboring states like Arizona and Idaho are considering legislation to allow permit-holding students and faculty to conceal firearms in classes. Already in Colorado, except in the University of Colorado, students are allowed to conceal carry, according to CNN. Even places such as Virginia Tech, which recently shot down the idea of allowing guns on their campus, grassroots organizations such as Students for Concealed Carry on Campus are popping up, pushing for more liberal gun legislation.

But for some in Utah, the ability to conceal carry isn't enough. Bill said he would like to see Utah gun laws become lax enough so he could open carry on campus. However, he said, he wouldn't carry openly out of respect to others concern over safety.

But even if someone is open carrying, he said, you may still miss it.

Bill jokingly remembered when he wore a revolver in the back of his pants to the business building one day. After sitting down and standing up, he said, his shirt had risen over the gun for all to see.

He must have walked around for 10 minutes like that till he felt a breeze, and nobody said anything about it, he said.

Because of incidents like that, this grad student prefers to carry in "deep concealment," or what he calls his "thunderwear."

The two magazines of ammunition he carries, he said, aren't because he thinks he'll ever need that many bullets. It's because of problems like "magazine failure" that could render his weapon useless. The hollow-point rounds are for safety oddly enough. Whereas most bullets tend to pierce through a target, making anything behind it at risk, his 9mm hollow points will expand on contact, and the chance to puncture out the other side and ricochet is lessened.

You may not realize it, but many police officers use hollow points, he said.

He carries because of a physical disability that has left him with the ability to run or even walk quickly. When he was bullied as a kid, he found out the hard way that a self-defense class won't stop everything.

"I love the critics who say, if there's a shooter in the building, run away," he said pointing out a problem for those who don't have that ability.

Bill said he understands how alarming seeing a person with a gun can be and suggests that if you ever do see someone with a gun, contact authorities right away. However, he said, when telling the police "There's a man with a gun here," he wishes callers wouldn't leave it to that sole description. Is the person doing anything threatening or does he have is weapon out at all, he would ask, or is the person simply buying books and happens to have a gun on his hip.

Utah's carry permit has reciprocity with over 30 states, he said. This is because to get a conceal carry permit in Utah, you must take a gun safety class and go through differing state and FBI background checks. Whereas in states such as Idaho, he said, "all you need is a pulse."

But despite Bill's hardware and license to carry, he said he doesn't want anyone to Rambo. He has never had occasion to draw his gun.

"And I hope I'll never have to," he said.



Copyright 1997-2008 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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