Utah lawmaker says misunderstandings, hidden agendas behind campus gun controversy

Posted at 2:58 PM, Oct 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-25 17:03:06-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- State Representative Curtis Oda says the media and some university administrators and professors are getting gun laws in Utah all wrong, and he wants to clear the air.

The issue of guns on campus, a common debate in Utah political and academic circles, came up in recent weeks because of a canceled event at Utah State University.

Feminist video game critic Anita Sarkeesian backed out of a speech in Logan after she told the University about death threats and they were unable to ban all guns from her event.

Oda said Sarkeesian was overreacting because the only people allowed to carry guns onto a public campus in Utah are concealed carry permit holders.

He said federal law bans the general public from openly carrying firearms onto campus.

"They can basically arrest someone if they show up on campus with a gun and they don’t have a permit,” Oda said.

Oda met with university students at the campus closest to his district, Weber State University’s Davis County Campus.

The students he spoke with were in favor of allowing concealed permit holders to carry guns on campus.

"I don’t have any issues with concealed carry permits on campus," Senior Mirra Valdez said. "I know some people with concealed carry permits, and I actually feel a little safer around them when I know they’re there because they have something that in case something bad happens, there’s a little bit of protection there."

But the students disagreed with Oda about Sarkeesian herself.

"Wouldn’t you think though too, that a person like Anita Sarkeesian who gets threats everywhere she goes, that she’s bringing some of this stuff on herself?” Oda asked Valdez.

"I wouldn’t say that’s she’s bringing it on herself,” Valdez said. "I’ve read actually a lot of the threats that go against her. I was doing some research a minute ago on her, and she has a lot of threats that go against her on a daily basis.”

Asked to clarify his point, Oda said, "Whoever made that threat, I hope they catch him and I hope they throw the book at him. No one deserves getting threats. No one deserves that kind of incivility, but her reaction wasn’t about the threat when she canceled.”

Oda said he believes she canceled even though the university offered extra security and the assurance that only permit holders would be allowed in with guns.

“There had to be a secondary agenda involved,” Oda said.

FOX 13 News has reached out to Anita Sarkeesian for comment regarding Oda's remarks and will update this story with her response should she provide one.