A planned gay and lesbian Queer Prom on was the unlikely thread that unravelled a little known weapons ban at the Salt Palace Convention Centre in Utah, USA.

Planners promoted the event as having a “zero tolerance policy for… weapons” and said that venue policies “allow only police officers to carry concealed weapons.”

Several Second Amendment groups including the gay and lesbian Stonewall Shooting Sports of Utah researched the matter and lobbied county-government leaders to obey state laws by reversing the policy.

The second amendment of the US constitution gives citizens the right to bear arms.

Stonewall Shooting Sports of Utah is a group of gender and sexual minority firearm advocates and owners in Utah.

They are supporters of the Pink Pistols idea that was described nationally in 2000 by writer Jonathan Rauch.

He called for the legal, responsible and safe use of firearms for LGBT self defence and shooting-sport competition and recreation.

Founded in 2002 with hundreds of members, they’re also the largest such group worldwide.

SSSU’s David Nelson told the event planners and venue officials that state laws prohibited the policy and its enforcement at public-government properties.

“Many of our members are among those to whom the event was promoted and were affected most by the imposition of the policy,” Mr Nelson said.

“State laws protect the rights of people who are 18 years of age and older, and choose to own and possess concealed and unconcealed legal weapons to do so at the event.”

“Venue general manager Allyson Jackson told me on April 13 that the policy did, in fact, exist, but not as a written contractual statement which she could cite verbatim or by number,” Nelson said.

“She said that venue law-enforcement officers could detain and question any visitor, and confiscate any weapon which the visitor possessed. She emphasised that this was the venue ‘way of operating.’”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dahnelle Burton-Lee disagreed on April 17 and reversed the venue policy in a published legal opinion.

“Salt Lake County does not have a regulation or policy that regulates firearms or weapons on its public properties beyond the scope of the authority granted by the Utah Legislature,” Burton-Lee said.

Utah Pride Centre executive director Valerie A. Larabee agreed on April 18 with the legal opinion.

“Queer Prom ‘Frozen’ is an event planned by and for youth age 13-20,” Larabee said.

“All attending this event will be expected to adhere to state laws.

To help clarify this issue, we will dispatch a communication to our volunteer staff that Queer Prom ‘Frozen’ is an event where illegal firearms are prohibited.”

A similar weapons ban was promoted in 2005 by Utah Pride festival planners who dropped the policy after Second Amendment groups including SSSU lobbied them and Salt Lake City-government leaders that the ban was unenforceable.

Since then, only illegal weapons are banned.

© 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.