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Gov. Spencer Cox Signs Bill That Eliminates Conceal Carry Permit Requirement

Concealed Carry Gun Handbag
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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.

Gov. Spencer Cox signed a bill into law Friday that will remove the requirement for Utahns over the age of 21 to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm.

Utahns who want a permit can still get one in order to travel to other states that require them. In order to obtain one, gun owners have to take a gun safety course and get a background check. The bill also funnels half of the money collected from issuing permits into a suicide prevention fund.

“This bill protects Second Amendment rights, reduces permitless open carry (which is already legal), and includes significant funding for suicide prevention,” Cox said in a statement.

Cox’s predecessor, Gov. Gary Herbert, vetoed a similar law in 2013. The law passed the state Legislature almost entirely along party lines. It takes effect in early May.

The National Rifle Association applauded the move.

“There is no reason a law-abiding person should have to ask for permission to carry a firearm for self-defense,” said Jason Ouimet, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. "The passage of this bill demonstrates Utah's commitment to protecting the Second Amendment rights of its citizens."

Proponents of the bill argue the state needs to trust law-abiding gun owners to act responsibly. They said many will seek out training voluntarily for their own safety and to travel to other states with a concealed weapon.

“We do need to go back to trusting our law abiding citizens,” bill sponsor Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, said during a hearing last month. “They are responsible. No matter if you have a permit or not, you are not removed from accountability for how you use that weapon.”

Critics of the bill, however, are worried about the ramifications of not requiring background checks and gun safety courses, which include information about suicide prevention.

“Everyone out there carrying guns these days are not good guys,” said Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, as the House debated the bill. “We do need people to get permits to take classes and to be trained.”

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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