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Utah lawmaker introduces no-permit concealed carry bill

By Hallie Golden, Associated Press  |  Posted Feb 2nd, 2016 @ 8:07am


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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — For the second year in a row, a Utah lawmaker has introduced a bill that could make it legal for residents to carry a concealed gun in public without a permit, a proposal that Republican Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed in 2013 and may reject again.

If passed, Utah would join a handful of other states that have made similar changes to relax their concealed gun regulations at a time when gun violence is a hot button issue throughout the country.

The proposal would mean people would be able to carry a concealed, loaded weapon in the same places they can now carry a gun out in the open.

Utah residents can currently openly carry an unloaded weapon without a permit. A gun is considered unloaded in Utah if there's no round in the chamber.

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The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. David Hinkins of Orangeville, said his constituents want to be able to cover their weapon when they bring it into public places, so they don't make other patrons nervous about seeing a firearm.

"If you have it on your body and it's out in the open, you're OK," he said. "But the minute you put it in your scabbard to protect it, you're breaking the law."

Critics say this proposal would remove the important requirement that concealed gun holders take a firearm training course.

"It's common sense that you just don't let people walk around untrained, with weapons that are built only to kill people," said Gary Sackett of the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah.

Sackett would not only like to see the state continue to require permits for concealed weapons, but also require them for guns that are out in the open.

Utah currently allows those with a permit to carry a concealed gun. This process includes verifying that the person is at least 21 years old, and has not been convicted of a felony, any violent crime, an offense involving alcohol or narcotics or domestic violence, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety. It also requires that the applicant complete a firearms familiarity course.

Gov. Herbert said he doesn't think he'll approve the new proposal if the measure looks similar to one he vetoed in 2013. That proposal would have required that the concealed guns be unloaded. It passed in both the Senate and the House, before Herbert spiked it.

Hinkins said he began working on the proposal after seeing other states' success with similar laws, such as Arizona and Alaska

The last major mass shooting in Utah was in 2007 when a shooter killed five people and wounded four others at a mall in Salt Lake City.

Hinkins introduced a similar bill last year. But after passing through the Senate, it died in the House of Representatives. There was not enough time in the session to have a hearing in the House, but this year there's plenty of time, he said.

Hinkins said he drafted his new proposal to allow individuals to use loaded guns so that it mirrored what is legal with a permit. He may change this depending on the feedback he receives, he said.

Hinkins is realistic about the proposal's chances. When asked whether he thought the governor would approve his proposal, he said, "He didn't last time, so he'll probably veto it."

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Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price contributed to this report.

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