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News & Editorials

Stop the Olympic Gun Ban!
No guns, no storage!

by Sarah Thompson, M.D.
Director, Utah Gun Owners Alliance

December 27, 2001 -- According to the Dec. 26 Salt Lake Tribune, the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command has announced that, not only will they ban legal concealed carry at all Olympic venues, they will not provide lockers for people to store their guns safely, even if the lockers are provided by volunteers.

Some history

In 1999, Gov. Leavitt and other anti-gun Utah politicians, along with the misnamed Department of Public Safety, decided that they did not want visitors to the Olympics to be able to defend themselves and their families. They apparently thought that political correctness was more important than safety and that it was important to send a message to the entire world that citizens with guns are a serious threat to security and can't be tolerated.

In order to pull the wool over the eyes of Utah's gun owners, they had Sen. Mike Waddoups carry this horribly anti-gun bill, because he is known for being "pro-gun" and was the sponsor of the 1995 "shall issue" concealed carry bill. The NRA and their local allies, the Utah Shooting Sports Council (USSC), supported this sell out, and encouraged legislators to vote for it, even going so far as to distribute a letter supporting the bill to all of the legislators.

I opposed the bill although this was before Utah Gun Owners Alliance was officially formed. I also made sure that Sen. Waddoups, the NRA, and USSC knew that the bill would not only ban concealed carry at the Olympics, it would also exempt the Olympics from providing storage. I was told I was being "too radical" and "unreasonable". The bill passed overwhelmingly, and quite a few legislators told me they had only voted for the bill because the NRA endorsed it.

Current anti-gun policies

Flash to 2000.... The Utah Republican Party invited Vice President Dick Cheney to speak at its convention. The Secret Service announced that it would ban guns, although it had no legal authority to do so, because law abiding concealed carry permittees were a 'threat" to the vice president. Utah Gun Owners Alliance objected loudly. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff agreed, and provided lockers for concealed carry permittees to check guns. Clark Aposhian of the Utah Self Defense Instructors Network also worked tirelessly to make sure that lockers were provided, and served as citizen watchdog to make sure the lockers were safe and gun owners were treated properly.

The convention went off without a hitch, proving that concealed carry permittees are not a "security threat" and that it's possible to accommodate them at even the most high security events. However the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command (UOPSC) ignored the evidence and proposed anti-gun rules that far exceeded even the anti-gun law sponsored by Sen. Waddoups.

In fact, the proposed rules allow UOPSC to declare ANY area a "gun free victim zone" by putting up a fence, whether or not the event has anything to do with the Olympics, and even allows it to create gun free zones OUTSIDE the fenced in secure areas. In other words, if they decide they want to make all of Salt Lake City a "no self defense zone", they can simply decree it. And they won't provide storage lockers, or even allow volunteers to provide them. (Clark Aposhian has offered to provide storage lockers, but his generous offer was rejected.)

Why YOU should care

In other words, not only will people be disarmed while inside the secure areas, they will be prohibited from engaging in self defense while traveling to and from Olympic events, while visiting other sites of interest in Utah, and while participating in public gatherings and celebrations. The end result is that almost everyone attending the Olympics will be effectively disarmed for their entire visit, and those who choose to bring a firearm will have to hide it either in a car or in a hotel room - neither of which is a safe option. Since Utah honors permits from other states for 60 consecutive days, this will affect a large number of Olympic visitors.

UTGOA believes that concealed carry permittees are not a threat to anyone but criminals, and that they should be welcomed even in secure areas. But at the very least, they should be allowed to check their guns so that they can be safe while traveling to and from events. After all, law enforcement has absolutely no obligation to protect anyone.

UTGOA filed a formal objection to these anti-gun rules, as did most of the other major gun rights organizations. While we have not received formal notification from UOPSC, it appears that they plan to ignore our comments as well as our request for a public hearing.

That Gov. Leavitt and the Olympics would decide to ban guns back in 1999 was a slap in the face to gun owners. However, in the aftermath of September 11, it is even more appalling. At a time when most Americans have finally realized that they must accept responsibility for their own safety, at a time when more and more Americans are purchasing guns and learning to use and carry them safely, at a time when our government has proven that it is unable adequately to protect us, the Olympics are banning self-defense. Apparently they are more afraid of good Americans with guns than they are of vicious and murderous terrorists! The truth is that concealed carry prevents violent crime, and armed civilians in Israel have even stopped terrorist attacks.

Utah Gun Owners Alliance thinks the so-called Olympic "Safety" rules are a disaster waiting to happen.

They're also an insult to gun owners. Utah's political leaders have refused to change Utah's extremely confusing and restrictive alcohol laws because they say Utahans are proud of their unique culture and shouldn't change it for the convenience of visitors. But when it comes to self defense, Utah's generally pro-gun culture is considered an embarrassment. Our self defense friendly gun laws need to be revoked for the duration of the Olympics so as not to offend the sensibilities of foreign visitors from places like Great Britain, which has banned all self defense. We realize that the British have become rather used to armed muggings and home invasions as a result of their "enlightened" gun laws, but we're not sure that Americans will welcome such cultural "improvements".

In addition, SLOC is promoting illegal and unsafe behavior. According to the Tribune, "SLOC spokeswoman Nancy Volmer confirmed last week that Olympic spectators, participants and volunteers are being encouraged to leave behind their concealed weapons, perhaps at home or in their cars." But leaving a loaded gun in a car is quite likely illegal, since a legally concealed firearm must be accessible for immediate use. And it's certainly not safe, since criminals will know to look in cars for weapons. Likewise, leaving a firearm in a hotel room is not safe, and hotels can legally refuse to rent rooms to people with firearms.

Gun owners have two choices. We can quietly roll over and agree to banning guns at the Olympics, in which case the liberal, anti-gun, international media will make sure to tell the whole world that even in Utah, everyone realizes that gun owners are a security threat and can't be trusted. Or we can make sure that those responsible for endangering the lives of millions of Utahans and even more millions of Olympic visitors know exactly what we think of them. This includes not only the security personnel banning guns, but the sponsors who are actually funding the Olympics.

What you can do:

Utah Gun Owners Alliance strongly suggests the following:

Avoid the Olympics, and if possible, avoid Utah altogether for the duration of the Olympics, unless the anti-gun rules are changed. Since the Olympic security folks have been kind enough to inform criminals all over the world that everyone here will be disarmed and helpless, we expect an increase in crime, even if there are no terrorist attacks. We sincerely hope we're wrong, but we can't in good conscience advise people to surrender their ability to defend themselves. Gun free zones are a serious threat to life, whether they're on airplanes, in schools, or at the Olympics.

So who can STOP the Olympic gun ban? Governor Leavitt could, but since he's an ardent supporter of gun control, it's not likely he will. So could Mitt Romney, the CEO of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee (SLOC), but he's also known for his support for gun control. While they should hear from you since both are politically ambitious, they're not likely to care about gun owners at the Olympics.

The folks at the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command could easily change the rules, since they wrote them in the first place. However, like all unelected bureaucrats, they're accountable to no one, and do as they please. They don't have to listen to citizens at all.

So who CAN do something about this? As with most things, all you need do is follow the money. And Utah's legislature controls the purse strings. The legislature could certainly pass a bill requiring safe storage for firearms at the Olympics. It could cut the budget for any state agency (such as UOPSC) that discriminates against gun owners, or worse, advocates illegal behavior. It could refuse to allow taxpayer funds to be used to cover Olympic expenses if the Olympics refuse to accommodate gun owners.

The Attorney General could also let UOPSC and SLOC know that they are promoting illegal behavior. He has already gone on record as opposing telling people to leave guns in cars. In addition, the state will face serious liability problems because Utah law says that anyone (or presumably his heirs) can sue the state if he is killed or injured and can prove that the injury would not have occurred if he, or someone else, had been able to access a concealed firearm. Even one tragic incident would likely result in serious liability for the taxpayers.

Contacting public officials

Here are the people you should contact:

Speaker of the House, Marty Stephens
318 State Capitol
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Office: 801-538-1930
Fax: 801-538-1908


Kevin Garn, House Majority Leader
2206 E. Summerwood Dr.
Layton, UT 84040
Office: 801-776-0232
Fax: 801-776-0214

David Ure, House Majority Whip
661 S. Lambert Lane
Kamas, UT 84036
Office: 435-783-2487

Senate President, Al Mansell
319 State Capitol
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Office: 801-567-4000
Fax: 801-567-4151

Senate Majority Leader, Steve Poulton
4524 Briarcreek Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT 84117
Office: 801-484-4477 
Fax: 801-486-7541 

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff
236 State Capitol
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-0810
Questions and Complaints: 801-366-0260
General Office Numbers: 801-366-0300, 801-538-9600
Toll Free within the State of Utah: 800-AG-4-INFO (800-244-4636)
Fax: 801-538-1121

Of course if you live in Utah, you should also contact your OWN Representative and Senator!

Sample letter:

Dear _________________:

I am writing to ask you to require the Utah Olympic Public Safety Command to provide storage lockers for legally carried concealed firearms at each secure Olympic venue during the upcoming Winter Olympics. UOPSC has announced that they will not provide lockers, and will also not allow volunteers to do so.

As you know, in 1999 the legislature passed legislation banning firearms inside secure venues, and providing that Olympic Security “may” provide storage lockers. In 2001, the legislature passed legislation recognizing non-Utah permits for 60 consecutive days. Thus it is likely that a large number of visitors to Utah will be carrying concealed firearms in order to protect themselves and their families.

It should be obvious that visitors will not be able simply to leave their guns home. Leaving a loaded gun in a car is dangerous, and many visitors will be using public transportation anyway. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that these people be able to carry their concealed firearms for self defense while traveling to and from events, and to other sites within Utah, and that they be able to store their firearms in a safe manner while actually inside the secured areas.

It is not acceptable to tell our guests that they have no right to self defense while in Utah, or to tell them to leave loaded firearms in obviously unsafe places such as cars and hotel rooms.

In other words, as public officials, you have the obligation to provide for the safety of both Utahans and visitors by making sure that there is a mechanism to safely store firearms so that criminals and terrorists don’t steal and misuse them, and so that innocent people aren’t victimized.

In addition, Utah faces serious liability if it disarms the millions of people attending the Olympics since Utah law allows anyone injured to sue the state if she can prove that her injuries would have been prevented if she, or someone else, had access to a concealed firearm. Obviously even one such incident would be costly to the taxpayers and would also generate adverse publicity for Utah.

I ask you to take immediate action to insure that concealed carry permittees, whether Utahans or visitors, are treated with respect and decency at the Olympics, and that provisions are made for secure storage. Such action might include passing emergency legislation to provide storage lockers, decreasing funding for the Olympics and Olympic-related government agencies, or refusing to use tax funds to bail out the Olympics unless they stop mistreating gun owners.

(I am a Utah voter and I will definitely consider your support, or lack of support, for self defense when I vote.)

(I do not live in Utah, but I travel to Utah for business/skiing/camping/hunting, and I will take my tourism dollars to some other state in the future since Utah is apparently not concerned with my safety.)


Other people to contact:

In addition, write to the following people and let them know what you think of their decision to prohibit self defense. Please be POLITE, and DO NOT make any sort of threat that could be construed as violent. Everyone is pretty hysterical about terrorists these days, and many of our civil liberties are gone, so be smart about your communications.

In other words, it's fine to say something like "I will go skiing somewhere other than Utah from now on," or "I will drink Pepsi instead of Coke;" but do not say things like "You'll be sorry you picked on gun owners."

Governor Mike Leavitt
210 State Capitol
Salt Lake City, UT 84114
Phone: 801-538-1000
Fax: 801-538-1528

Utah Olympic Public Safety Command
Tammy Palmer
Phone: 801-257-2745
Robert Flowers, Chairman
Phone: 801-965-4463
P.O. Box 11838
Salt Lake City, UT 84147
Main Phone: 801-257-2700
Main Fax: 801-328-4608
Main Email:

Mr. Mitt Romney
President/Chief Executive Officer
Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games of 2002
299 South Main Street, Suite 1300
Salt Lake City, UT 84111 USA
Contact: Donna Tillery
Phone: 801-212-2002
NOTE: Mr. Romney has made it clear he plans to run for public office, so he needs to hear from the public!

Don’t forget Olympic sponsors!

This is a very large group, and you probably don't have time to contact all of them. You can access a complete list, with links, by going to:

However, we note that there are several Olympic sponsors who are also known for their support for gun control. These include:

AT&T: 1-800-222-0300

Hallmark, Contact form at: (Monster owner Andrew McKelvey has donated millions of dollars to found the misleading and deceitful Americans for Gun Safety, which is in turn funding anti-gun activities in Utah): 1-800-MONSTER

We also suggest contacting the major sponsors, listed under "TOP Partners". These include Coca Cola, McDonald's, Panasonic, Samsung, Sports Illustrated, Xerox, John Hancock and Kodak, and VISA.

Note that none of these provides essential services and none has a monopoly. In other words, you can drink another cola, eat other fast food, choose other electronics companies, and use MasterCard instead of VISA. So, what you need to do is to contact each of these companies and let them know that as a result of their support for the anti-gun Olympics, you will boycott them and do business with their competitors. Then DO IT!

This is NOT a hopeless task, and these companies are NOT too big to pay attention to you. Roughly 1/3 of families in the US (and more in Utah!) are gun owners and no major company can afford to alienate that many people. McDonald's has bent over backwards to accommodate the "animal rights" extremists, so they can certainly work with gun owners. We just need to demonstrate our commitment to what we believe.

VISA: 800-847-2911 -- Many banks and credit unions are participating in Visa's Olympic promotions. In Utah, these include America First, Mountain America, Southern Utah Federal Credit Union and Zion's bank. To check other areas, go to and click on "Get a Card".

The Coca-Cola Company, P.O. Box 1734, Atlanta, GA, USA 30301: 800-GET-COKE

McDonald's, contact form at:

Please help!

We need YOUR help to make the Olympics safer for everyone and to make sure that gun owners are not singled out for persecution by Olympic security. Please contact as many of these people, organizations and companies as possible and let them know that you expect them to treat gun owners properly. We are not a threat to security, and in fact concealed carry decreases violent crime and may even deter terrorists.

If you get a response that UTGOA should know about, or if you need more information, please let us know! Write to or call 801-566-1625 and leave us a message!

Copyright 2001
Utah Gun Owners Alliance, Inc., and Sarah Thompson
PO Box 1185
Sandy, UT 84091

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That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of The United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms... — Samuel Adams, Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at 86-87 (Pierce & Hale, eds., Boston, 1850).

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