Legislators sound off on Governor’s veto | ParkRecord.com

Legislators sound off on Governor’s veto

Caroline Kingsley, The Park Record

Local legislators have mixed reactions to a decision by Gov. Gary Herbert to veto a bill on Friday that would allow anyone over the age of 21 who can legally purchase and own a gun to carry an unloaded concealed weapon without needing to obtain a concealed weapons permit.

According to Utah State Code, an unloaded weapon can have a full magazine but cannot have a round in the chamber.

Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said the veto of H.B. 76, Concealed Weapon Carry Amendments, sponsored by John Mathis, R-Vernal, was a great thing.

"It took courage," he said. "I think it demonstrates that there are some valid concerns about the constitutional carry bill. What we have on the books right now is sufficient to protect people. We don’t need to loosen the restriction on people’s ability to openly carry weapons.

Kraig Powell, R-Heber, also said the current law didn’t need to be changed.

"I think this is a good system we have, and anyone who wants to change our gun laws has a high burden to show we need to make any change," he said.

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Powell, who said he voted mistakenly in favor of the bill, said that the amendment to the bill lacked explanation and debate when it was presented.

"This is an issue that was discussed for many, many weeks, which is why I thought I was fine in my position," he said. "What was rushed was the substitution of the bill. The bill was amended overnight without any press or coverage after Rep. Mathis met with the governor Thursday night."

The next morning, Mathis announced he was proposing a new version of the bill.

"House leadership made a motion to close the debate and have no debate on it," Powell said. "I was expecting to have 30 minutes to an hour to debate on it like we had the previous week so I could understand what the amendment was, but that didn’t happen."

Powell said he didn’t believe there was sufficient debate on the bill, and he doesn’t believe he should have voted for it.

"I didn’t understand what I was doing at the moment," he said. "I thought it was some compromise that had been worked out."

Powell said he doesn’t like when a bill is changed, amended or substituted without explanation or time for the representatives to study the new version before voting on it, he said.

"One of the reasons I am not in favor of this change to Utah law, is that if there are some things that need to be done with our ranchers and farmers who need to use a gun on the ranch and not be in violation of a concealed carry permit, I think there could be some reasonable changes made to Utah law without changing the entire concealed carry permit system," he said.

The House and Senate could override the veto with a two-thirds majority in both House and Senate. Legislators have until May 13 to call an override session.

"The leadership will have to poll the members to see how it stands," said Mel Brown, R-Coalville. "If they think they have the votes, they’ll move to an override. I’d vote for the override in a second. I think it’s a good law. I would rather have people carry unloaded guns around than loaded," he said. "I think this is better than the concealed carry law, where all you have to do is pull the trigger."