Recent mass shootings have revived the debate on gun safety across the nation.
While the likelihood of a mass shooting is low at Utah colleges, state law offers students and staff a way to protect themselves on Salt Lake Community College campuses.
“If you do feel like you need to bring a firearm on campus, just make sure you have [a] concealed carry permit and you can legally do it,” says Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Jeff Willmore.
In accordance with Article 1, Section 6 of the Utah State Constitution, Utah law says that resident students who go through the proper training course and obtain a concealed weapons permit can conceal carry a firearm on campus.
The idea of concealed weapons on campus leaves students with differing opinions.
“I believed that concealed weapons would not affect safety on campus,” says communication major Mike Sanchez. “More people with guns around me doesn’t make me feel safer or more fearful.”
Other students may feel more secure with trained gun owners on campus.
“As long as they have the proper training then yes, [concealed weapons] make me feel safe,” says accounting major and Lifetime Activities Center employee Paul Richards.
Still, no state law is set in stone, as recent history has seen the University of Utah suspend state law and abide by federal law to showcase certain speaking events on campus.
UHP is ready to investigate anyone who illegally possess a firearm on campus.
“If you do see someone carrying a firearm [open carry] please contact us and we will make contact with them and make sure they can legally have the firearm on campus,” Willmore says.
Charges have been filed in a few cases.
“We have had three incidents where individuals brought firearms onto the campus and they were prosecuted and convicted,” Willmore says.
The officers responsible for protecting SLCC students also offer safety classes that cater to active shooter scenarios.
“We teach classes on this all the time. We have been doing so for about three to four years,” Willmore says. “There are three decisions you have in this scenario … run, hide or fight. There’s no one best decision, but those are what you can do.”
Willmore says that SLCC also has behavioral intervention teams on constant standby, “for individuals or students that exercise certain behaviors we have a team that spot this and intervene.”
Anyone who has questions about the firearm policy at SLCC can contact the appropriate campus police agency for more information.