Guest Editorial, April 10-12, 2013
The bill essentially repeals Utah’s requirement that people obtain a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon.
The original sponsor argues that the bill is necessary because farmers and ranchers, who often carry a gun openly without a permit (as allowed by Utah law), become lawbreakers if they merely put on a coat or jacket, thereby concealing their weapon.
In vetoing the measure, Gov. Herbert noted that Utah has had its concealed weapon permit in place for decades and has received little or no complaints, even from ardent gun-rights advocates.
Gov. Herbert also emphasized the value of the training that permit holders receive, including instruction in proper loading, transporting and storing of weapons, allowable uses of firearms in self-defense, and the variety of applicable gun laws.
Finally, Gov. Herbert argued that Utah’s permit process improves safety each year by detecting and denying many permit applications submitted by criminals and mentally ill individuals.
My constituents who have contacted me to urge an override of the governor’s veto argue that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms without infringement by government.
These constituents also believe that Utah’s concealed weapon permit does little to improve public safety, because law-abiding citizens would be responsible without the permit requirement, and criminals will simply ignore the requirement.
On the other hand, constituents who support the governor’s veto, and oppose an override, contend that the permit requirement is sensible and not onerous.
These constituents, many of whom are permit holders themselves, say that the classes required to obtain a permit serve a useful purpose by educating gun owners in safety procedures and in the legalities of carrying a weapon.
I greatly respect all of my constituents who have contacted me about this issue, both for the opinions they have expressed, and for their diligent efforts in speaking up and making their views known.
Like most difficult questions of public policy, there are good arguments on both sides of this issue.
The most persuasive points that have guided me in making a decision on the potential veto override are these:
First, Utah House Bill 76, and Gov. Herbert’s veto of the bill, have nothing to do with any laws or policies about gun control being considered in Washington, D.C.
I believe that many people are supporting Utah’s House Bill 76 out of opposition to proposed gun control measures at the federal level.
Any position I take on Utah’s own firearms regulations is completely separate from my views on federal weapons restrictions, which implicate entirely different constitutional questions.
Second, during my five years serving in the Utah House, I have not received any significant criticisms, complaints or proposals regarding a need to change Utah’s concealed carry permit.
As Gov. Herbert noted, the system has seemed to work well for decades, with broad support from all sides of the political spectrum.
Third, if there are changes that need to be made to allow certain people such as farmers or ranchers to more freely carry a weapon, I think we can make such changes without discarding the entire concealed carry permit system.
Fourth, I don’t believe that Utah’s concealed weapon permit requirement is an unconstitutional infringement of citizens’ rights to keep and bear arms.
Finally, I think that, overall, the advantages to society of the concealed weapon permit system outweigh its disadvantages.
For these reasons, I support the governor’s veto and intend to vote against an override.
Kraig Powell represents Wasatch County and parts of Summit County in the Utah House of Representatives.
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