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Open carry ban within 500 feet of schools defeated in committee

Students, teachers and parents marched from West High School to the Utah State Capitol in favor of gun reform on March 24, 2018. (Photo: Carter Williams, KSL.com)

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah House committee has voted 6-2 to defeat a bill that would have banned the open carry of a gun within 500 feet of a school.

The vote came after emotional testimony from both sides of the issue.

Anna Penner, a student at Salt Lake City’s West High School who’s also part of the Utah chapter of March for Our Lives, said the bill would protect students from shootings and the emotional toll of lockdowns.

“If this law had been in place during these situations, law enforcement officers would have been able to address these situations more effectively,” she said.

But Clark Aposhian with the Utah Shooting Sports Council said it would make criminals out of ordinary people.

“The beginning of this zone, say, is the parking lot,” he said. “It may not even be known or visible to that citizen walking their dog or who, perhaps steps outside of their vehicle.”

Opponents also worried the law would be unenforceable.

Utah lawmakers got rid of the 1,000-foot open carry-free zone around schools in 2011.