I am one of the 15,000 concealed-weapon permit holders in the state of Utah. We have all submitted to a rigorous and thorough criminal background check. As far as I know, none of us has ever committed a serious offense with a firearm. We are respectable, mature and trustworthy people from every walk of life including business leaders, doctors, lawyers, restaurant owners, housewives, teachers, legislators, farmers and ranchers. We are not a problem. We have never been a problem. Most gun-related crimes are committed by persons who possess guns illegally, such as convicted felons and juveniles.

Why then do people want to limit the right of concealed-weapon permit holders to protect themselves and their loved ones wherever and whenever violent crime may strike? What is wrong with not wanting to be a victim of deadly force on the job, in school or in church? Why pass a law that broadcasts to would-be mass murderers that state employees, students, teachers and churchgoers are completely defenseless against armed attack? Don't people understand that when Florida passed a liberal concealed-weapon law, violent crime decreased substantially because criminals couldn't tell which of their potential victims might be carrying a gun?Concealed-weapon permit holders are only prohibited from carrying guns at the international airport and in the courts. In both places there are metal detectors and armed guards to protect the public against armed attack. Until taxpayers are willing to pay for metal detectors and armed guards in every school, church and public building, concealed-weapon permit holders should have the right to protect themselves and their loved ones in these places. Wherever we are permitted to carry our guns, we act as a deterrent to violent crime. Lawmakers should be applauded for refusing to pass gun laws which punish law-abiding citizens rather than deterring violent criminals.

Mitch Vilos