Last Tuesday, we first alerted you to HB 76 – Concealed Weapon Carry Amendments from Representative John Mathis (R -Vernal). At the time, we incorrectly reported that the bill would allow individuals over the age of 21 to enter private property with a concealed weapon without the permission of, say, a homeowner.
Well, we were wrong in that assessment – as it turns out, HB 76 has far larger implications.
HB 76 would not allow people to simply walk into a business or public park without disclosing the fact that they had a weapon – rather it goes a step further and would, if passed, turn Utah into what is known as a “Constitutional Carry” state.
The principal behind a Constitutional Carry law originates from a strict and narrow reading of the Second Amendment, stating that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” To that end, a Constitutional Carry state would have no laws whatsoever regarding the right of citizens to own and carry a weapon.
At its most extreme, this would include criminals and children, however lawmakers recognize that there is a public interest in keeping weapons out of the hands of these (and other) types of individuals. The less-extreme version that Representative Mathis is proposing would allow anyone who can legally possess a weapon over the age of 21 to carry a gun (open or concealed) in public without a concealed weapons permit.
Four other states have full Constitutional Carry laws, and New Mexico allows it under the provision that the gun is unloaded. If Utah were to pass Mathis’ proposal, we have to ask what image this would project to both the citizenry and tourists. The status quo currently requires that individuals be trained in weapon maintenance and handling before they carry concealed weapon in public – this reasonable provision allows individuals the right to carry a weapon and allows the public at large to know that, if a gun is concealed around them, the individual has been trained in gun usage – if HB 76 were to pass, Utah would be taking a step back to the Wild West where just about anyone could carry a hidden weapon.
We should add that if this bill were to pass in tandem with Paul Ray’s (R – Clearfield) HB 268 – Disorderly Conduct Amendments, law enforcement could have a difficult time putting the citizenry at ease when a gun does appear in public. To remind you, Ray’s bill states that a person is not inherently causing disorderly conduct in public – even if other individuals feel threatened by the presence of the gun. By themselves, these two bills will work to give the perception that Utah places greater importance on the right of an individual to carry a gun than the right of the public not to feel threatened by gun violence – but if these two bills were to pass, it is all but certain that Utah will be perceived as backward when it comes to gun laws.
Individuals have the right to bear arms, and they have the right to carry those weapons in public so long as they have received proper training. What Representative Mathis is disregarding with this proposed bill is that people also have the right to feel secure and safe in public. By having weapons concealed, those who feel threatened by weapons can still be blissfully unaware – but, by having weapons about and in the open, Representative Mathis will effectively be creating an environment where people feel unsafe around their fellow law-abiding citizens. In the end, we have to ask if we really want to live in a state where people would feel under threat from their neighbors.
To contact Rep. Mathis, Click Here or call 435-789-7316
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill