Bill to expand concealed carry tabled
Legislators have agreed to set aside a bill that would have allowed adults 21 and older to carry an unloaded, concealed gun without a permit.
The bill, HB 260, is sponsored by Rep. Curtis Oda, a Republican whose district includes parts of Davis county.
In Utah, any adult 18 or older who is not restricted from being around a firearm can openly carry an unloaded weapon without a permit. Those same adults can legally carry a loaded, hidden weapon in their car, but not concealed on their person.
The bill is currently in the House Rules Committee, but in an interview with The Park Record on Thursday, Oda said he has entered into a verbal agreement with Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert to set the bill aside to study, to allow for further research.
"I have an agreement with the governor and we are going to study it over the summer and we are going to bring it back next year," Oda said.
Oda said the bill still has support and the opportunity to further study the proposal is a "procedural step." Four states already allow adults to carry loaded, concealed weapons without a permit, Oda said.
"People get scared seeing guns exposed," he said. "Why create more fear when it’s unnecessary? The only thing this would do would allow them to cover it up."
Oda said he reintroduced the bill "because it’s the right the thing to do."
But opponents of the bill appear to be more concerned about the permit provisions.
In 2013, the proposal passed both the Utah House of Representatives and the Senate, before Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed the bill.
Aimee Edwards, the public information officer for Gov. Herbert, said in an email to The Park Record the "the governor’s position has not changed."
Gov. Herbert detailed his reasoning for vetoing the proposal in 2013, stating "as a state, we must exercise extreme care that we not impose undue burdens on the right to bear arms, but I have yet to receive any credible evidence that Utah’s current permit process constitutes a hardship."
When the bill passed, Herbert said he received "dozens of letters" from law enforcement agencies opposing the bill citing "public safety concerns."
"Every time we do something like this, the police chiefs start yelling and screaming that the streets are going to run red with blood," Oda said. "But we haven’t had any problems and none of what they said has ever come to fruition. This is not going to create any additional problems."
Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter, who also serves as president of the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, said setting the bill to aside would be a "positive move in the right direction."
Carpenter said the police association maintains the same position as it did when the bill was introduced in 2013.
"It’s not that we don’t respect and appreciate the Second Amendment because we do understand and support the Second Amendment," he said. "But our biggest issue is we just want a simple, criminal history background check."
The bill would also undo the minimal level of training that is required by the state to obtain a permit, Carpenter said.
"There are very few mandates in the current law to require basic training and this would eliminate that," he said. "We feel that right now, it is a very vague law, at best."
Dan Labov, the owner of the Park City Gun Club said, in his opinion, the bill is unclear.
"We are, as you might imagine, very supportive of Second Amendment rights, but we feel the current Utah law is a good one," Labov said. "So the requirements are pretty easy and it’s not a big infringement. It makes sense that someone would have this level this of minimal training.
"And really, Utah is pretty pro-Second Amendment," he added. "I don’t really think going as far as this new proposal is the wisest thing to do. People who carry already know not to walk down Main Street or around supermarkets where moms and kids are."
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Park City Fire District Chief Paul Hewitt died Friday from injuries sustained in an off-duty accident earlier in the week, the agency announced.