Legislature May Overturn University's Gun Ban

Legislature May Overturn University's Gun Ban

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gun-rights activists may look to the Legislature rather than the courts to overturn the University of Utah's ban on campus firearms.

Third District Judge Robert Hilder ruled last month that the firearms ban was legal. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff recommended appealing the ruling to the Utah Supreme Court.

The appeal is expected to be filed sometime next month, but Shurtleff says he will drop it if legislative leaders enact a measure to overturn the university's policy.

"Why appeal something if they're going to change the law and make the issue moot?" Shurtleff said.

Shurtleff also warned that pressing the state's case in court is risky.

"He said the two judges involved have predispositions toward gun control," said Senate Majority Leader Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville. "He's judging the judges and I have to think he's pretty accurate, because I don't now how Hilder ever came up with his decision."

Shurtleff said Wednesday, "I can't tell you how a judge is going to rule," but Hilder and U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball, who earlier refused to rule on the lawsuit until a state court looked at issues of Utah law, have "tipped their hats on how they feel about guns.

"The Supreme Court could disagree with Hilder's ruling, but remand it back to his court. And Kimball still has jurisdiction over arguments touching on federal law," said Shurtleff.

Waddoups is working on a bill to clarify provisions in Utah's concealed weapons law and firearms act that give the Legislature sole authority to enact gun laws.

Hilder said that because those statutes were written to stop counties and cities from adopting conflicting gun rules, they "do not reach either the university's relations with its students, faculty or staff or prohibit them from making regulations."

Waddoups' measure would stop all state entities, including public colleges and schools, from making gun regulations. It would also carry penalties for institutions that violate the law.

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

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