Attorney General Will Appeal University Gun Ban

Attorney General Will Appeal University Gun Ban

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has filed notice that he will appeal a judge's ruling upholding the University of Utah ban on firearms.

"I believe that the decision was wrong, and I think I have a duty to appeal it to a higher court," Shurtleff said Thursday.

However, he said he may drop the appeal, depending on what the Legislature does.

Third District Judge Robert Hilder ruled on Aug. 29 that the university's 25-year-old policy prohibiting firearms on campus does not run contrary to the state's concealed weapons law and firearms act.

The appeal to the Utah Supreme Court will focus on Hilder's finding that the university's policy does not invalidate concealed-weapons permits -- it just does not allow the weapons themselves to be carried on campus.

"The Supreme Court will simply have to look at the statute and the intent of the legislature when it was passed," he said.

The high court will likely not hear arguments in the matter until after next year's legislative session, when lawmakers are expected to address the issue through additional legislation. Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-West Jordan, has said he will carry a bill clarifying lawmakers' authority and intent in regulating when and where concealed weapons may be carried.

If that is the case, Shurtleff said, he will dismiss the appeal.

Hilder has recused himself from additional participation in the case, citing "widely publicized statements" by Shurtleff and Waddoups that the judge said questioned his impartiality.

Shurtleff said the statements were not meant to imply Hilder was unfair in his ruling.

Shurtleff earlier had said that Hilder and U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball, who refused to rule in the university's lawsuit until a state court looked at issues of law, had "tipped their hats on how they feel about guns."

Waddoups said that Shurtleff was "judging the judges and I have to think he's pretty accurate, because I don't know how Hilder ever came up with his decision."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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