More young adults in Utah carrying concealed firearms

Updated March 11, 2018 - 11:37 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Each aisle she turned down, he seemed to be there. By the shelves of Cap’n Crunch and Cocoa Puffs. By the cans of chicken noodle soup and pinto beans and pasta sauce. By the rows of fresh lettuce.

And when Jacee Cole went to check out, he was there by the cash registers, too.

She didn’t know who he was or what he wanted or why he was watching her. “I think I’m being followed,” she whispered to her mom on her phone.

“I don’t know what to do.”

As Cole pulled out of the grocery store parking lot, the man appeared again in her rearview mirror and tailed her into her Magna neighborhood. She called police, but he drove off before officers arrived. She worried he would come back.

If he did, Cole wanted to be able to defend herself.

So last year, shortly after the state green-lighted Utahns as young as 18 to get concealed carry permits, she completed the training and bought a 9mm handgun. She was 19.

“A lot of people told me I was too young for it,” said Cole, now 20. “But I feel safer.”

She’s not the only one. Since the reduced age limit took effect on May 9, the state has issued more than 1,400 permits for 18- to 20-year-olds to carry concealed firearms. That includes 107 in January alone. And in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Florida last month, gun-rights advocates anticipate the numbers will go up even more as young adults search for a sense of security in a handgun.

Protecting women

State Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, R-Clearfield, sponsored the proposal to allow adults under age 21 to obtain concealed carry permits as a freshman legislator last year. She wanted to equip young women who might have to defend themselves against potential rapists or attackers, particularly on college campuses.

“I just wanted to empower those who felt they would be more secure and be able to protect themselves by carrying a gun,” she said.

It’s unclear how many of the permit holders are women (the state’s Department of Public Safety doesn’t break down the numbers by gender in its quarterly reports). But even if just one woman had signed up, Lisonbee said, it would have been worth it to her.

Opponents, though, suggest the lawmaker’s argument doesn’t pan out in Utah, where there is a high rate of sexual assault and gun ownership is prolific.

“I’m not sure why we continue to think that we’re going to solve issues of crime or violence in the state by encouraging more violence,” said Jean Hill, government liaison for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Most in the state didn’t support the measure when Gov. Gary Herbert signed it into law a year ago. Some 60 percent of residents were opposed, according to a Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute of Politics poll conducted in March 2017. Women disliked the measure by an even larger margin, at 69 percent opposed, compared to 52 percent of men.

“It will not prevent every rape of a woman who is armed,” Lisonbee acknowledged at the time. “But it clearly results in a dramatic reduction of her risk and is therefore an option that all Utah women should have.”

And its most loyal defenders are, of course, the ones who want to carry.

‘Good guys with guns’

Jared Larson slipped his right hand under his jacket and pulled out a small pistol. There wasn’t bullet in the chamber but, to be safe, he aimed it at a watercolor of pink flowers hanging in his parents’ living room.

“I pray to God I will never have to point this at a single human being,” he said. “I want it in case, heaven forbid, I have to.”

Larson, 20, got the gun last month from a private seller. After a student was shot and killed at the University of Utah in October, he felt afraid each time he left his Centerville home. His mind frantically ran through scenarios of an active shooter appearing in a pew at his church or pulling up to the drive-thru window at the fast-food chain where he works.

The $450 firearm felt like an investment in his life and his future. He carries it nearly everywhere.

“I got too scared,” he explained.

Each mass shooting in the past year — 58 people killed in Las Vegas, 26 in Texas, 17 in Florida — has further confirmed his resolve. With a handgun tucked in his belt, he feels “safer, not invincible, but safer.”

“The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun,” Larson said like a mantra, “is to have as many good guys with guns as possible.”

The permits for 18- to 20-year-olds are considered “provisional” and have one major restriction: These young adults can carry anywhere a regular permit holder can, except for on elementary, middle school and high school grounds, said Jason Chapman, a firearm supervisor with Utah’s Bureau of Criminal Identification. That’s because a provision in state code expressly prohibits a person under the age of 21, regardless of “a permit of any kind,” from having guns on K-12 properties. It’s by that statute that teachers in the state are allowed to carry.

Meanwhile, most public universities and colleges in Utah permit concealed firearms on campus (though they are banned at the privately owned Brigham Young University, LDS Business College and Westminster College).

Guy Bolduc brings his handgun to classes at Salt Lake Community College. For him, it’s both a precaution and “a way of life.” His family has always had guns, and he got his concealed carry permit shortly after returning home from a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in August.

“It’s not just a superstition why I carry it,” said Bolduc, 20. “Anything can happen at any time and I want to protect others if a situation arises.”

That responsibility, he said, the thought that he might have to be willing to take another person’s life, adds some weight to a gun that’s roughly 48 ounces.

The Age Argument

An 18-year-old can vote. An 18-year-old can serve in the military. And, in all but two states (Hawaii and Illinois), an 18-year-old can buy an assault rifle like the AR-15 used by the Florida gunman.

The restrictions are much tighter on handguns, according to the Giffords Law Center, with 15 states banning anyone under 21 from purchasing one and 10 banning anyone under 21 from owning one.

Jack Hampton has experience with both weapons. He joined the Marine Corps for a year and “spent every day carrying a rifle.” Now, while on reserve duty in Utah, the 20-year-old carries a concealed handgun.

It’s made him feel less vulnerable while living off base after being trained “to see everybody as a possible threat.” But he doesn’t advocate for most young adults to carry. He worries they might be too jumpy, too inexperienced, too careless, too immature.

“This isn’t just carry because you’re cool. There’s a purpose. It isn’t the wild, wild west,” Hampton said. “When you’re scared you make rash decisions. I’ve seen it happen, even in the military.”

An 18-year-old can also still be in high school.

For Steve Gunn, that’s too young. He fears permit holders under 21 will have a higher rate of accidental shootings. He also warns that Utah teens and young adults have a high suicide rate — making it the second leading cause of death in 2015 for residents ages 18 to 24 (and the first for ages 10 to 17). Most of those deaths involved firearms.

“For a high school student to be carrying a concealed weapon is very bad public policy and a potentially dangerous situation,” said Gunn, a board member of the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah.

But Utahns as young as 18, for instance, can purchase, possess and openly carry firearms.

Gun-rights advocate Clark Aposhian argues: “We let 18-year-olds do so many other things. They’re treated as adults in so many ways. If they commit a crime, they’re certainly going to be tried as an adult.”

‘Not defenseless’

There have been a few times when Jacee Cole has felt nervous enough to start reaching her hand around to where her pistol is pushed into the waistband of her jeans. But she hasn’t pulled it out. And she hasn’t fired at anyone.

Years ago, maybe when her house was broken into or when a group of guys chased her down the sidewalk as she waited for police to show up or when a man stalked her at the grocery store, she might have. She doesn’t know for sure.

Mostly, Cole hopes she never needs to.

Last year, Utah’s new provisional permit made up less than two percent of the more than 68,000 concealed carry permits the state issued. It isn’t much, but Cole believes it’s enough to send a message.

“At least I’m not defenseless.”

Courtney Tanner is a reporter with the Salt Lake Tribune. This article was distributed through the AP Member Exchange series.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeffrey Martin Added To Nevada's Black Book
Martin was one of four men convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court and sentenced to prison. The Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include Martin in the black book.
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Buffalo Wild Wings security video
Security footage from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in southwest Las Vegas captured a driver who repeatedly crashed into a vehicle in a failed attempt to squeeze into a tight parking spot.
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Navigating the new I-515 southbound to 215 Beltway ramp configuration
After opening at 5 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, the new Interstate 515 southbound to the 215 Beltway westbound freeway ramp configuration caused confusion amongst motorist. Here’s how to navigate the new ramp. (Mick Akers/ Las Vegas Review-Journal).
A record breaking donation of nearly $9 million to Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada
A record breaking donation of property valued at nearly $9 million was made to the Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada by the Charles and Phyllis M. Frias Charitable Trust. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal. @bizutesfaye
Kerry Clasby thanks the community for support after California fire damage
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about the lessons of accepting help as she has gone through the Woolsey Fire disaster, in which she lost many of her belongings. About 100 people were on hand for an event that raised about $7,000.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like