White Paper #8

Interim Education Committee Testimony

Licensed Carry of Lawfully Concealed Firearms in Schools

19 May 1999

Position: Opposed to any further restrictions on lawful and/or licensed possession of a firearm or other instrument of self defense beyond current state and federal law.

It has been long-established that the most fundamental human and civil right which every citizen of our nation enjoys is the individual right of personal self defense. This right has long been a cornerstone concept of both Natural and Common Law, and is included in both the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Utah. Inherent in and inseparable from the exercise of that right is the ready access to an effective means or instrument of self defense.

Since 1986, Utah has provided its adult citizens with a mechanism to more effectively exercise this right under the authority of a state-issued permit to carry a concealed firearm. This permit is issued after state certification of the applicant of their familiarity with the safe operation of a firearm and the laws regarding the use of force by a private citizen, and includes a thorough background check to verify no history of violence, substance abuse, moral turpitude or any other factor which would indicate the applicant to be a threat to themselves, others or the public in general. This permit has been valid without restriction throughout the state of Utah for more than a decade, and remains so today.

In 1995, Utah followed a national trend now in place in 2/3rds of the states in the U.S., and shifted the burden of proof from the applicant proving a need for a permit to the state demonstrating disqualifying factors for issuance of a permit to the applicant. Since 1995, nearly 25,000 law-abiding Utah citizens, or about 2.5% of the eligible adult population, have been issued such a permit for the legal carry of a concealed firearm for lawful self defense. In that time, absolutely no pattern of abuse, endangerment or reckless behavior of any kind on the part of Utah concealed firearms permit holders has developed. These tens of thousands of good, decent, hard-working Utah citizens quietly go about their daily lives, more secure in the knowledge that they may effectively protect themselves and their loved-ones from violent criminal assault.

The numerous proposed prohibitions regarding such otherwise lawful firearms possession would punish these good, decent, peaceable and law abiding Utah citizens, deprive them of their means of effective self defense and thus begin an open-ended laundry list of prohibited areas, circumstances and situations, wholly absent any evidence of abuse or misconduct whatsoever on the part of the impacted individuals.

As a society we trust our professional educators, faculty, administrators and school staff, to educate our children by giving them daily responsibility for hundreds of thousands of young people, billions of public tax dollars annually and facilities worth many tens of billions more. Many Utah educators have been assaulted and victimized at school, drivers shot during school bus hijackings, coaches shot during gang fights on school grounds, even custodians abducted from school grounds, and then raped and murdered. Depriving these educators of their means of self-defense, even under the guise of school safety will only serve to put these educators at further risk of victimization.

By embracing the concept of banning such otherwise lawful and licensed firearms possession in schools you are in fact declaring that while educators and staff may be able to safely and diligently discharge these professional roles, they are not capable of making responsible decisions regarding their own physical safety by lawfully carrying a firearm for personal protection. If they are incapable of prudent, adult decisions regarding lawful self defense, why are they trusted in the classroom with our children?

GOUtah! wishes to state without qualification and in the most unambiguous terms that we fully trust Utah's professional educators and staff to be safe, prudent and responsible in their lawful and licensed possession of a firearm or other instrument for personal self defense. We further state that the decision for such lawful and licensed possession is an entirely personal matter, always made upon much reflection and with deep deliberation, and that no educational institution, public or private should attempt or be allowed to restrict or prohibit their faculty or staff or other duly-licensed individuals of their lawful possession of an instrument of self defense.

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