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Politics & Government

Utah Bill Removing Concealed Carry Permit Requirement Gets Its First Green Light From Lawmakers

A photo of a woman putting a gun into her purse.
chonticha wat
/
iStockphoto
In order to carry a concealed weapon in right now, Utahns must get a permit for it. Permits require a background check and a gun safety class.

Utahns would not need a permit to carry a concealed gun under a bill making its way through the state Legislature.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St.George, got the green light from a legislative committee Friday after nearly two hours of debate. It passed 8-3 along party lines. The Legislature passed a similar bill in 2013, only to have it vetoed by then Gov. Gary Herbert.

“We do need to go back to trusting our law abiding citizens,” Brooks said. “They are responsible. No matter if you have a permit or not, you are not removed from accountability for how you use that weapon.”

There’s limited evidence that loosening concealed carry permit laws increases violent crime, according to an analysis from the non-partisan think tank RAND Corporation. It looked at more than 20 studies, and found “at least one study meeting our inclusion criteria and not otherwise compromised by noted methodological weaknesses” that said it increased violent crime.

Training

In order to get a concealed carry permit in Utah right now, gun owners have to submit copies of their fingerprints and take a “firearms familiarity course.” That requirement would go away if the Legislature passes Brooks’ bill.

Tory Peters, state director for March For Our Lives Utah, was concerned, especially because those required courses include information about suicide prevention.

“The critical training provided in the concealed carry permit process about safe gun storage, handling and suicide prevention would be lost if this bill is passed, compromising the safety of the individuals in our communities,” Peters said. “Many responsible gun owners will continue to take the training, but what about the irresponsible and lazy gun owners?”

But the RAND coroporation analysis also found there’s inconclusive evidence about whether easing concealed carry permit laws has an impact on suicide.

Several Republicans, including Rep. Nelson Abbott, R-Orem, argued that responsible gun owners would seek out that training on their own.

“Some of the words that have been used today are ‘lazy’ or ‘irresponsible’ people and I don't think we as lawmakers ought to look at the citizens of the state of Utah that way,” he said. “I certainly don't look at my constituents in that way. I think my constituents are responsible people. And if they're allowed to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, I fully expect and anticipate that they will do so responsibly.”

Background Checks

Concealed carry permits also require a criminal background check, which House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, argued the Legislature should expand if it passes this bill.

“My hope is that we can take some concrete steps, especially if this bill passes, to increase the scope of our background checks so that we can do a better job of making sure,” King said, “That if we're going to increase the prevalence and the existence of guns in our state — that we at the very least do a better job of making sure that we can identify and those individuals who shouldn't have guns and keep guns out of their hands.”

King has introduced a universal background check bill this legislative session — for the third year in a row — that requires them any time a firearm changes hands. Right now, background checks are only required when buying a gun from a licensed dealer.

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