Flagged Bill: HB 67 – Weapons on Public Transportation – Rep. Norm Thurston

Representative Norm Thurston (Republican - Provo)
Representative Norm Thurston (Republican – Provo)

In the state of Utah, it is illegal to carry a concealed gun on a bus. This is, presumably, because people would prefer to reduce the possibility of a weapon being discharged in an enclosed public space.

If Representative Norm Thruston (Republican – Provo) has his way, this will change as HB 67 – Weapons on Public Transporation would strike the portion of the law that makes it a third-degree felony to have a concealed weapon aboard public transport.

[pullquote]Representative Norm Thurston wants to remove the law that currently makes it a felony to carry a concealed weapon on a bus with HB 67…but Thurston is starting a conversation that goes beyond needing proper change to take mass transit.[/pullquote]Let’s be honest, opinions on this particular piece of legislation most likely correlate to your overall feelings towards guns in general and concealed weapons in particular. No doubt, any form of gun legislation is such a charged topic, particularly in an age where the United States leads the world in per capita mass shootings, has the highest number of homicides by firearm in the first world, and is being discussed in a state that ranks  4th best for gun ownership by Guns and Ammo.

The only fair way to address HB 67, then, is to ask if we benefit more from maintaining the status quo or if a change is required.

At the core of this bill is the balancing of rights. On one hand we have the right to feel safe and secure in our life and property, on the other we have the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

It has been shown that, on the whole, those who live in urban areas are more likely to not feel safe around guns when compared to more rural locations. It is also reasonable to presume that buses are more likely to operate in urban areas due to the very nature of mass transit.

The next question is an individual right to keep and bear arms infringed by the current law? In theory, yes. An individual is unable to bear arms on the bus after all.

Because of this, we have to take the debate a step further and ask if the individual’s right to bear a weapon greater than the right to feel safe.

In many ways, this argument mirrors the classic view that one is not able to shout fire in a crowded movie theater simply because of their First Amendment right to free speech. Why? Because it causes undue fear and unease for the public. Similarly, it appears that allowing one individual to carry a concealed weapon in one particular location and at one particular time creates an amount of unease and fear – if only because people will now be aware that any individual could potentially be carrying a weapon.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that the status quo does not prevent people from transporting their legally acquired weapons. If an individual lives in an area where bus service exists, another infrastructure exists to allow individuals to transport their concealed weapons.

There is one final argument that is relevant – one that the law makes law abiding citizens criminals. This argument is valid, but it ignores the fact that such laws exist to remind people that they exist around others, and to further punish those who do commit crimes. After all, We don’t have laws such as murder on the books to magically get rid of the act, it is to punish those who violate the social norm.

The status quo appears to be working, and there appears to be no compelling reason to change the law other than to appease, rather than protect, a portion of the population at the expense of another.

To contact Representative Thurston, click here or call 385-399-9658 (Cell).

You can track this, and all of our other flagged bills, by clicking here. Need an explanation of scores? Click Here.

Impact on Average Utahn 0-1-2-3-4-5
Need for Legislation 0-1-2-3-4-5
Lemon Score 0-1-2-3-4-5
Overall Grade F

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *