SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Republican state lawmaker plans to introduce legislation next session that would allow Utah residents to carry a hidden, unloaded gun without a permit — a plan Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed three years ago.
The proposal is being sponsored by Rep. Lee Perry, a lieutenant with the Utah Highway Patrol. He said changing Utah law to get rid of the permit requirement for concealed carry is the right thing to do, KUTV reports (http://bit.ly/2d6QwBp).
“The bad guys are already carrying guns,” Perry said. “You should be allowed to carry open or concealed if you’re a law-abiding citizen.”
A similar law went into effect in Idaho this summer, allowing residents 21 and older to carry concealed guns without needing permits or training. That made Idaho the 10th state with such a policy, following the passage of similar laws that took effect earlier this year in Mississippi and West Virginia.
When Herbert vetoed the 2013 bill passed by the mostly-GOP state legislature, the Republican governor said current laws don’t inhibit the ability of state residents to bear arms. Utah law offers concealed carry permits to people who pass background checks and take a firearm safety course.
If Herbert wins re-election in November, he would again be in position to veto the measure.
Michael Mower, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, said in a statement that the governor needs to review the specific legislation before making any determination on the possibility of a veto.
Perry said he is working to finish the draft of his bill. The 2017 legislative session begins Jan. 23.
Opponents of the 2013 measure, including the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, Utah League of Cities and Towns, and Catholic leaders, said that bill would have presented serious public safety concerns by eliminating the need for classes or background checks involving the possession of firearms.
Steve Gunn with the Gun Violence Prevention Center said the background checks and safety courses required for permit holders are critical for a concealed carry program.
“I’m surprised — even shocked — that a law enforcement officer would want to eliminate that requirement,” Gunn said.
Perry said he thinks his legislation would help protect law enforcement officers.
“I am deeply concerned about the fact that law enforcement’s being attacked,” Perry said, “and I know a lot of good law-abiding citizens out there that would love nothing more than to defend law enforcement officers.”