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In Utah, Birkenstocks, backpacks, and guns?

University of Utah fights a law allowing concealed weapons on campus.

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Utah has never been shy about its guns.

Here, a small town called Virgin once passed a law requiring that all households have a firearm. Here, an American with a concealed-weapons permit from any state can carry a handgun into a day-care center or an elementary school, and residents once protested a speech by Vice President Dick Cheney because they weren't allowed to bring their weapons.

Not surprisingly, Utah again took a strong Second Amendment stand this spring, overthrowing a 30-year University of Utah policy that banned concealed weapons on campus. But in a twist, "the U" is fighting back.

"There are places where guns are not appropriate," says spokeswoman Coralie Adler, who adds that the university will challenge the law in court.

In many ways, it marks the opening salvo in a new war over where and when Americans can carry a gun.

For 20 years, the battle has focused on whether states should allow everyday citizens to carry firearms in public, as well as how easy a concealed-weapons permit should be to get. Now, gun-rights groups appear to have won all the states they can, and those 46 states are turning to the question at issue in Utah: Where are guns appropriate?

"That's going to be the fight in all these states," says William Vizzard, a gun-control expert at California State University in Sacramento.

There are already hints about the shape that debate might take. So far, modest steps have met with some success. States are increasingly working out deals with other states so their concealed-weapons permits will be valid elsewhere. And Arizona looks set to amend its concealed-weapons laws to allow permit holders with a gun to enter a business that sells alcohol - so long as they don't drink.


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