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Up In Arms Over Olympic Policy

Olympic organizers will not provide weapons storage lockers at venues, angering gun-rights activists who grudgingly agreed to a firearm ban.

Activists who struck a deal with legislators on the ban at venues expected lockers for some of Utah's 41,800 concealed-weapons permit holders attending the Winter Games.

"They have not been very friendly to us at all," said Winton Clark Aposhian, leader of a concealed-weapons instructors group that planned to pay for and staff the secure storage.

He called the final regulations "unfair and inconsistent," and said they went far beyond what advocates expected when they forged the compromise.

Weapons were outlawed from the 10 competition sites, nine blocks of downtown Salt Lake City in the secure Olympic Square area and at other Olympic sites as part of the 1999 agreement. The law allows the Olympic law enforcement commander to provide secure storage for weapons at venues, but does not require it.

Government security officials and the Salt Lake Organizing Committee say there won't be any lockers.

SLOC spokeswoman Nancy Volmer confirmed that Olympic spectators, participants and volunteers are being told to leave behind their concealed weapons, perhaps at home or in their cars.

"We are not having lockboxes," she said.

Volunteers have been informed of the no-guns policy through their SLOC handbooks. Ticket holders will find weapons listed under "prohibited items" in the spectator guide, which notes that the ban also covers "one licensed to carry a concealed firearm."

"We are giving people plenty of advance notice so they will plan accordingly," said Tammy Palmer, spokeswoman for the Olympics Public Safety Command.

State Sen. Mike Waddoups, who helped forge the Olympic-venue exception to Utah's concealed-weapons law, said he was surprised that security officials had not arranged for lockboxes.

"I don't know that they can do that," he said.

Charles Hardy, spokesman for the Utah Shooting Sports Council, said SLOC "simply wanted to ban guns" and disregarded Utah's concern for law-abiding citizens who have obtained permits.

Lockboxes were used in August at the state Republican convention. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff paid for gun storage lockers out of campaign funds after security staff for Vice President Dick Cheney refused to allow guns inside the convention hall where Cheney was to speak.

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