By some tallies, Utah is the most armed state in the nation. Although other surveys rank us among the most peaceful states, Friday's tragic massacre in Connecticut raises the question again: Why are Utahns so fanatical about their weapons? I recently wrote a story, Gun Lovin' Utah, in our next issue asking exactly this question. An excerpt of the feature, which includes interviews with lawmakers and gun advocates, is posted below. 

The magazine will be on newsstands Jan. 1.

Gun Lovin' Utah

Why are we so passionate about firearms?

By Mary Brown Malouf

The American West is generally gun tolerant, but in Utah, the Second Amendment is practically holy writ. Horrific gun violence—like the episodes at Salt Lake’s Trolley Square and in Aurora, Columbine, West Virginia and Wisconsin [and now Portland and Newtown, Conn.]—only seems to strengthen Utahns’ hold on their guns.

No one knows what percentage of Utahns own guns because, unless a weapon was purchased from a licensed dealer, there’s no record kept of guns sold. Utah scored a solid zero on the Brady Campaign’s 2011 scorecard—that translates to some of the loosest gun laws in the nation. We have the most “valued” concealed weapons permit in the country. We can carry guns on campus, in bars, in the State Capitol, in most churches. We are home to the third biggest unregulated arms market in the country—owned by the Mormon church’s 

The other thing no one knows: Why the heck do Utahns love guns so much?