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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The University of Utah said Monday it will temporarily suspend enforcing the school's gun ban and hopes to work out an agreement with lawmakers to keep weapons off campus and still comply with state law.
University President Michael K. Young sent an e-mail to faculty, staff and students saying the school will ask for a stay in its federal court case to keep guns off campus. School officials will meet with state leaders, hoping to reach a compromise on the state law that was upheld by the Utah Supreme Court.
"I'm very appreciative that they decided to go that route," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Monday night from Washington, D.C., where he was attending a meeting.
Shurtleff hopes the university and state lawmakers can come up with a resolution and keep the matter from further court wrangling. The case has gone on for four years and could go longer if a resolution can't be reached.
"This allows them some time to go to the Legislature and see if they can get some changes in state law to satisfy some of their concerns," Shurtleff said. "If they feel like they haven't had satisfaction, this gives them the opportunity to pursue the matter further in federal court."
The Utah Supreme Court ruled Sept. 8 that the weapons ban runs counter to Utah law, which prevents state and local agencies from restricting possession or use of firearms on public or private property.
The university sued Shurtleff, first in U.S. District Court in 2002 and then in 3rd District Court in 2003, after he said the law applied to the school. The federal court told the university to get the state issues resolved in 3rd District Court first and then return to federal court.
With last week's state decision, Young said the school will hold off on pursuing further federal action while trying to work out an agreement with the state.
"We have agreed, with the Attorney General's office, to suspend temporarily enforcement of our policy regarding firearms on campus and modify our practices to comply with state law," Young said in the e-mail.
State law prohibits firearms on school property, unless the weapon holder has a permit.
The Legislature amended the law in 2004 to specifically include "state institutions of higher learning," among other things.
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