The Utah state House recently debated and approved HB198, which would open up concealed carry permits to 18- to 21-year-olds in the state. One of the chief arguments in favor was that it would allow young women to defend themselves against attackers and rapists.

This story from The Salt Lake Tribune says Rep. Kim Coleman spoke to a hushed statehouse room, saying when she was 19, the same age as her daughter, “I was a statistic.”

“Studies show the single most effective way to stop a completed rape is a gun,” she said to the chamber. “Why would we ever deny someone the right to avail themselves of the single most effective way of (stopping) completing a rape?”

Coleman told The Tribune that she was attacked in an attempted rape when she was a young woman and that she never told anyone for 20 years out of fear. She told the paper that she strongly believes HB198 will help young women protect themselves. So, she decided to tell her story now.

“My 19-year-old daughter looks at her five roommates, and wonders statistically which one of them it is going to be,” she said.

The story says Coleman teachers her daughter to be safe and avoid dangerous situations, but that doesn’t mean an attempt won’t ever happen.

The House ultimately voted 63-12 to pass the bill. It nows heads to the state Senate for a discussion and vote.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Karianne Lisonbee (R-Clearfield) said young Utah residents between 18 and 21 can legally carry openly, but they cannot obtain a concealed carry permit until they are 21. Since most colleges in Utah ban the open carrying of firearms, young women cannot carry at all on campus until they are 21. For most students, that birthday occurs sometime in their third or fourth undergrad year.

From the story: “Lisonbee said the Justice Department recently released a study saying 20 to 25 percent of women in college will be victims of attempted rape or rape during their undergraduate years.”

“She pointed to studies that show that the more forcible the resistance, the lower the completion ate for attempted rapes—with no increase in the rate of physical injury. She said the use of a weapons most greatly improves a woman’s chances.”

The story says among the 14 women in the House, eight voted against the legislation and six voted in favor.

The bill certainly has its opposition.

Rep Karen Kwan (D-Murray), who is a university psychology instructor, said in the story that the brains of people between 18 and 21 are still developing and that they have poor impulse control, which is why the drinking age in Utah is 21.

Community activist Dee Rowland is quoted in the story as saying, “There’s a reason Utah does no allow those under 21 to buy liquor. Shouldn’t that reasoning be applied to legally carrying concealed lethal weapons?”

Rowland also invoked the suicide argument, saying “Utah teens and young adults have a high suicide rate already and guns are the most successful method of committing suicide.”

Her claim about the effectiveness of the method aside, if the bill passes or fails, 18-year-olds can still purchase a firearm in Utah, they simply can’t carry one concealed. There is no research that indicates people who apply for a concealed carry permit are more likely to commit suicide.

For the full story from The Salt Lake Tribune, go here.