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.

Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive Remembrance Wall
(Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive
Vitalent hosts a blood drive at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shootings. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October sunrise remembrance ceremony in Las Vegas
Myanda Smith, sister of Las Vegas shooting victim Neysa Tonks, speaks at the sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‪Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to crowd at Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬
‪Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the crowd at the Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim talks about college scholarship in his daughter's memory
Chris Davis, father of a Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim, Neysa Tonks, talks about a college scholarship in his daughter's memory to assist the children of those who died in the shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Oct. 1 survivor Malinda Baldridge talks about life after the shooting
Malinda Baldridge of Reno attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with her daughter, Breanna, 17, and was shot twice in the leg when the gunman fired on the crowd.
Route 91 survivor talks about lack of progress in gun legislation
Heather Gooze, a Route 91 survivor, talks about lack of progress in gun legislation since the Oct 1. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas/Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like