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Utah House Approves Bill To Allow 18-20-Year-Olds To Carry Concealed Weapons

Lee Hale

Rep. Karianne Lisonbee is a Republican and a freshman legislator from Clearfield. She says the idea for her bill, HB 198, was brought to her by a group of young women who want to defend themselves from rape.  

“Because most Utah college campuses don’t allow open carry, 18-20-year-old adults cannot carry a weapon on most college campuses unless they obtain a concealed carry permit,” she told members of the Utah House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Currently an applicant for a concealed carry permit must be at least 21 years old. Lisonbee’s bill would allow someone between the ages of 18 and 20 to apply for a provisional concealed carry permit.

Democrats opposed the bill, pointing to data that shows violence on college campuses is likely to increase if there are more firearms around. Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Taylorsville, teaches at Salt Lake Community College and says she sometimes worries for her safety as it is.

“I think it would impact us in the classroom,” Kwan said.” I know it would impact me, thinking that there might be some students there who have concealed weapons on campus.”

Republican Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, rose in support of the bill. She cited a different study that says the use of a weapon greatly decreases the likelihood of a completed rape.

“The best conclusion from available scientific data is that when avoidance of a rape has failed, (and) one must choose between being raped and resisting, a woman’s best option is to resist with a gun in her hand,” Coleman said.

In the end, HB 198 passed the House by a vote of 63-12, split down party lines. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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