In 2013, former Republican Representative from Vernal, John Mathis, introduced HB 76 – Concealed Weapon Carry Amendments. That legislation attempted to turn Utah into what is known as a “Constitutional Carry” state that would allow anyone who isn’t a felon over the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon, so long as the weapon was not loaded, regardless of the fact that the individual has or has not received training on how to properly use an item specifically designed to kill.
The principal behind Constitutional Carry laws originate 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.”
[pullquote]Perry’s bill is not only presumably already opposed by law enforcement, but is actually made worse for the public in this most recent incarnation by not only putting the public at risk but holding fewer people accountable for bad policies. [/pullquote]In 2013 Utah Political Capitol raised concerns about what image this bill would project to both the citizenry and tourists and that current laws provided adequate access to those wishing to covertly carry a weapon while balancing the security needs of the general public. Ultimately, we would come to the conclusion that if such legislation were to pass, Utah would be taking a step back to the Wild West where just about anyone could carry a hidden weapon.
Governor Herbert wisely vetoed that legislation, noting that Utah’s current concealed weapons laws were adequate. Law enforcement went further and requested that the legislature restrain itself and not override the veto – even though HB 76 received 51 votes in the House and 22 in the Senate, just enough for a successful override if everyone voted the same way.
Herbert’s veto would ultimately hold, but it didn’t stop former Clearfield Republican Representative, Curt Oda, from attempting to run the same legislation two years later with HB 260 – Concealed Firearm Permit Amendments. That legislation, however, never saw the light of day, meeting its fate in the House Rules Committee.
But, in what appears to be a two-year cycle (read: as far away from an election as possible), Representative Lee Parry (Republican – Perry) is once again introducing carbon-copy legislation that would allow anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon without the need for a permit with HB 112 – Firearms Amendments.
This go-around Perry does introduce a fun, new, concept to the legislation: protections for businesses who knowingly allow people to carry a concealed weapon into a place of business in the event that the gun does go off (a luxury already afforded to private property owners). Not only does this passively imply that accidents will happen in public areas, but it protects businesses from having to worry about repercussions from innocent customers who may not know the businesses’ open door policy on concealed weapons and are harmed in an accident.
Whereas the argument can be made that a homeowner has control over who may or may not enter their home and has the option to invite a concealed weapon in, members of the public do not control who may or may not enter a place of business and could easily be unaware of the businesses’ policy.
One common argument that has been used in the past used by supporters of constitutional carry is that it protects hunters in the event that they happen to cover up their weapon while hunting and tracking. Though this is an interesting defense, it is worth noting that the legislature has already accounted for this in 76-10-504 (5), which explicitly protects hunters in this narrow situation.
In short, not only is Perry’s bill presumably already opposed by law enforcement (interesting, considering Perry himself is a Utah Highway Patrolman), but is actually made worse for the public in this most recent incarnation by not only putting the public at risk but holding fewer people accountable for bad policies.
Perry, who hails from a slightly more rural part of the state, needs to understand that such laws would have a very different effect on the urban core, where attitudes towards weapons are more diverse and pronounced. Though rural areas view guns as a way of life, they can bring great anxiety to those who live in denser and more crime-prone areas.
The current laws work and this red meat legislation will only cause more harm than good.
To contact Representative Perry, click here or call 435-225-0430 (Cell)
|Impact on Average Utahn||5|
|Need for Legislation||0|