Eccles Legacy Bridge to glow orange

Required training on campus firearm policy

The University of Utah recently released a three-minute required training video to educate faculty and staff about the U’s firearm policy and what to do if they see a firearm on campus.

The training is one of the 30 recommendations made by an independent review team that evaluated the U’s handling of the Lauren McCluskey case. The review team said the university should provide additional training regarding the proper reporting of weapons or the possibility of a weapon on campus.

The U follows state law, which allows individuals with concealed weapon permits to carry concealed firearms on campus. Guns are otherwise prohibited.

Legacy Bridge to
turn Orange

Wear Orange Weekend, June 7-9, is designed to raise awareness of gun violence.

One of the University of Utah’s most well-known landmarks will be bathed in orange light at dusk on Friday, June 7, as part of Wear Orange Weekend, promoted by several national nonprofit organizations dedicated to garnering support for solutions to reduce gun-related deaths.

The George S. Eccles Legacy Bridge, which spans Mario Capecchi Drive, will stay orange through Sunday, June 9, in honor of Utah victims and survivors of gun violence. The Utah chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which requested the bridge lighting, is sponsoring Wear Orange Weekend, which coincides with Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 7.

The Wear Orange movement began in 2013 after 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton of Chicago was shot and killed. Pendleton’s friends wore orange after her death and asked others to adopt the color—commonly used for hunting safety vests—to raise awareness about gun violence.

The Eccles Legacy Bridge’s lighting is changed only on rare occasions. Requests to do so must be approved by the university and there is a cost associated with switching out the lights. In this case, the Utah chapter of Moms Demand Action worked with Everytown for Gun Safety to cover the cost.

“The people of Utah and Salt Lake City have a high regard and respect for the University of Utah and if it will light up for Gun Violence Awareness Day, we believe people will take notice,” said Mary Ann Thompson, president of the Utah Chapter of Moms Demand Action.

Two U students—Lauren McCluskey and ChenWei Guo—were killed on or near campus in the past two years by perpetrators using firearms. The deaths contributed to major actions to improve safety at the U.

Moms Demand Action was launched in 2012 following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that resulted in the deaths of 26 people—20 of them children between the ages of 6 and 7. The grassroots movement now has chapters in every state and advocates for public safety measures to protect people from gun violence. Moms Demand Action has 375 to 400 members in Utah.

Carolyn Tuft and her daughter Kait Hinckley started the Utah chapter about five years ago in memory of daughter Kirsten Hinckley, who died in a 2007 mass shooting at Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City. Tuft and Kirsten Hinckley were shopping for valentines when the attack occurred. Six people, including the perpetrator, died and four were injured.

“Obviously we needed something here to educate people,” said Tuft, who was among those injured. “Before I was shot I would have never thought I needed education. I don’t own guns, I lived in a safe neighborhood, my kids weren’t into gang activity. I thought I was safe. But I learned the hard way we are all vulnerable.”

In the aftermath, Tuft says she lost everything: her daughter, her business, her home, her health. Through Moms Demand Action, Tuft is hoping to raise awareness and encourage more people to become educated and engaged in finding ways to be part of the solution because “you are safe until you are not.”

“I don’t want people to be complacent. I want them to be part of the solution so they don’t have to end up like me,” she said.

The Utah chapter is sponsoring a Wear Orange in the Park gathering at Sugar House Park on Saturday, June 8, from 3-5 p.m. Other sponsors of the event include the Utah Domestic Violence Council, Gun Violence Prevention Center, March for Our Lives SLC and the Utah League of Women Voters. Activities will include speakers, live music, children’s activities and light refreshments. The program will take place at the Sego Lily Pavilion on the park’s south side.

Thompson said this year’s event will honor the 410 people killed in gun-related deaths in Utah in 2017, the most recent statistical count available from the Utah Department of Health. Of that total, 344 were self-inflicted suicide deaths.