Gun Control Advocate
Assaults Gun Rights Advocate
by Sarah Thompson, M.D.
Director, Utah Gun Owners Alliance (UTGOA)
January 15, 2002
At the Administrative Rules committee this
morning, Utah attorney Pat Shea demonstrated for the committee and other
attendees why those who oppose gun rights are more of a threat to public
safety than are peaceful gun owners who only want to be able to defend
themselves against violent criminals.
Shea, for those of you not familiar with him, was the Democratic candidate
who challenged Sen. Orrin Hatch in 1994. He was also appointed Director of
the Bureau of Land Management and later deputy secretary of the Interior by
former President Clinton. (This may explain why the BLM is so hostile to gun
The morning hearing, as you may remember, was called to discuss whether the
Administrative Rules Committee had oversight of illegal policies that are
actually rules. (Technically, rules are subject to legislative
oversight, while internal policies are not. But many executive agencies are
calling their rules policies as a way to get around Utah law.)
Despite requests from committee members that speakers stick to the above
issue, and not discuss whether banning guns is a good or a bad policy, Mr.
Shea became quite overwrought at the idea that responsible, adult students,
faculty and employees might be able to carry firearms for their own safety.
He insisted that the legislature had no oversight over what executive
agencies do, and that the legislature's sole recourse was to ask the
Governor and the executive agency in question to change its policies.
He said that only the courts may legally review an executive policy and that
the legislature has no authority to do so. And he insisted that even
visitors to the campus must be legally disarmed because they are
"guests" of the university and must obey the university's wishes.
Not even University of Utah President Bernie Machen went that far. (For the
record, visitors may carry concealed.)
As Shea was speaking, he became visibly more upset and emotional. "You
wouldn't want a concealed weapon in a mental institution! You wouldn't want
a concealed weapon in a prison! So why would we want guns at a
University?!" he cried.
To his credit, Sen. Mike Waddoups, sponsor of the 1995 concealed carry bill,
responded, "Because they're not mentally ill and they're not
The committee, understandably, seemed less than impressed with Mr. Shea's
reasoning, which only agitated him further. His parting words to the
committee as he left the testimony table were "You'll lose in court!
I'll make sure of it!", and then under his breath, "Idiots!"
Gun collector and gun rights advocate John Spangler, who was at the meeting
to represent the Utah Shooting Sports Council, says he turned around and
silently mouthed the word "A**hole" at Mr. Shea. Shea, in
Spangler's words, "Jumped up, proceeded forward three rows, shoved me,
grabbed the seat I was sitting in, and dumped me on the floor. During
the attack he stated 'Did you call me an a**hole? Let's go outside and
settle this! Come on, let's go! Don't you have your concealed
weapon? Let's go outside.'"
Spangler showed the admirable restraint typical of most gun owners and did
not respond either physically or verbally.
Sadly, not a single person from the media was in attendance.
Security was called, but Shea was not evicted from the meeting - although
gun rights advocates have been tossed out of meetings for such
"violent" offenses as holding signs. We suspect that had a
gun owner behaved in such a disgraceful manner, he'd have been escorted out
of the building in handcuffs.
Spangler filed a complaint with law enforcement and says he intends to press
We at UTGOA certainly don't condone offensive language, and we would
strongly advise against name calling in or out of committee hearings. But
most people learn as children that name-calling is part of life, and that
violence is not an acceptable response.
This is a classic example of how anti-gun folks use the psychological
defense mechanism of "projection", in which they attribute their
own thoughts and feelings to other people. Shea, who obviously has problems
controlling his own violent impulses, seems to project his own feelings onto
gun owners and to assume that they will behave as he does, and are thus a
threat. For more on this concept, see http://www.utgoa.org/articles/RagingAgainstSelfDefense.html
The morning hearing itself went well. The committee voted unanimously
to include policies that conform to the definition of rules to the Omnibus
Rules sunset legislation. In other words, if it looks like a rule, and
acts like a rule, the Administrative Rules Committee will treat it like a
rule, no matter what the executive agencies call it.
The afternoon session was devoted to a review of state executive agency gun
policies, especially those at our colleges and universities.
UDOT announced that it was rescinding all of its rules prohibiting CCW in
University of Utah President Bernie Machen then offered his remarks. Despite
a request from Speaker Stephens that comments be limited to whether the gun
bans were legal, Machen insisted on reading his prepared statement.
"It is understood by most Utahns and, indeed, most Americans that guns
are unacceptable in schools except for law enforcement officers and
specifically authorized persons."
In other words, if I say it's unacceptable, it's unacceptable, and anyone
who disagrees with me is some sort of lunatic extremist. This man runs
Utah's flagship university, supposedly a place of higher learning and
scholarship. But apparently he sees no reason to base his opinions on facts
or data when emotions and polls will do.
The facts are clear - permitting concealed carry on campus would
statistically decrease crime and help keep students, faculty and employees
We wonder if Machen remembers that Ted Bundy once stalked his peaceful haven
from reality, and murdered U of U students.
"Most of all, however, we want to do the right thing for the safety and
well-being of those who attend classes, conduct research, and work at the
University of Utah. We also want to ensure that our campus continues to be a
place where vigorous and open debate can occur without fear or
Is this the vigorous and open debate between a rapist and a young woman? Or
the fear and intimidation involved when the U. threatens a senior medical
student with loss of his degree and his career if he carries a firearm when
coming to work at 3 AM? The "right thing" is to allow people to be
responsible for their own safety.
If Machen is serious about ensuring vigorous and open debate without fear or
intimidation, perhaps he should consider banning Pat Shea from campus, where
he spoke as recently as last week.
"Academic freedom is short-circuited and education is stifled if
students and faculty feel threatened by the presence of a weapon in the
classroom. We believe this provides the legal basis for an exception to the
current law for college campuses."
Perhaps President Machen needs to look up the word "concealed". A
concealed weapon is by definition not visible and no one knows that it's
there. And since when is "feeling threatened" a legal basis for
enacting policies - especially policies that violate laws?
"Several polls taken in 1999 and again last week show that a clear
majority of Utah citizens oppose guns in school. ...the only people calling
for them (guns) are gun advocates who want to impose their will on Utah's
The polls he mentions are highly suspect. And polls are no basis for making
laws anyway. We're fairly certain that 150 years ago a majority of
people would have opposed allowing black women to attend universities. That
is why we have a constitution that guarantees rights, rather than government
by opinion polls. It's not gun advocates imposing their will on the
university; it's the US Constitution, the Utah Constitution and Utah statute
as enacted by the legislature.
"That would, I fear, only reinforce negative stereotypical images of
Yup. Can't have those knuckle-dragging, red-neck, Neanderthals embarrassing
the anti-gun internationalists running the Olympics. We should probably
check and see if this particular statement complies with the University's
"diversity" protocols. Maybe President Machen would benefit from
the mandatory multiculturalism course he forces on all the students.
Machen also insisted that because the U policy has been in effect for 20
years, there's no need to change it just because Utah law has changed. He
stated that he is not willing to rescind the U's gun bans, and implied that
he might continue them regardless of the actions of the legislature.
Most of the representatives of the other colleges and universities concurred
with President Machen. However for those of you looking for a school that is
more likely to respect your rights, the College of Eastern Utah has no
firearms policy, Southern Utah University "probably" allows
concealed carry, Salt Lake Community College permits concealed carry (and
has had no problems), Utah State only prohibits firearms in campus housing,
and Dixie State prohibits CCW without a permit, so carrying with a permit is
There was also a great deal of argument to the effect that gun bans are
protected by the First Amendment since the mere presence of concealed
firearms chills free speech - and that the First Amendment trumps the
Attorney General Mark Shurtleff also participated in the hearing and clearly
reaffirmed his opinion that the gun bans are illegal and that he does not
accept the various arguments made by the universities.
After two hours of debate, the committee, on a motion made by Speaker
Stephens, voted unanimously to add all of the anti-gun rules and policies to
the list of rules to be sunsetted by the Omnibus Rules Reauthorization bill.
They also plan to ask for a legal opinion from legislative counsel.
This means the committee voted to recommend to the entire legislature that
these gun bans be rescinded - which is a big step in the right direction,
and good news for gun owners.
Special thanks to Rep. David Ure, Speaker Marty Stephens, Sen. Mike
Waddoups, and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff for their defense of concealed
carry. Thanks also to Matt Boyden, Mitch Vilos and Charles Hardy for their
excellent pro-carry and anti-lawlessness testimony.
UTGOA will keep you posted on the status of the Rules Reauthorization bill.
If you contacted any of the members of the committee to ask them to support
gun rights, PLEASE take a moment to thank them for their support. Rep.
Buffmire was the sole dissenting voice, and even she was a good sport about
it. We were disappointed to hear that Rep. John Swallow considered other
business more important than participating in this critical hearing.
These events prove once again that citizens who are willing to take the time
to become actively involved in our legislative process, to contact
legislators, to serve as delegates, and to work to elect pro-gun candidates
can be successful in promoting gun rights.
Thanks to YOU, the state employees gun ban, the UDOT gun ban, the bans on
guns in wildlife preserves, mental health centers, and youth correctional
facilities are all history or soon to be history, and it looks like the
university gun bans will soon follow.
Keep up the good work. With your help, we can look forward to a VERY
SUCCESSFUL legislative session.
Copyright 2001, Utah Gun Owners Alliance, Inc. and Sarah
PO Box 1185
Sandy, UT 84091
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