A proposal to let law-abiding adults in Utah carry a concealed firearm without a permit moved one step closer to final passage on Tuesday, breezing through the House of Representatives on a largely party-line vote. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Walt Brooks, argued to his House colleagues that concealed-carry permits do nothing to suppress gun violence and said 19 states have dispensed with the requirement. “Because I’m allowed to put my jacket over my gun does not increase suicide,” Brooks, R-St. George, said shortly before the House passed his bill 54-19. Similarly, he added, these permits do nothing to prevent childhood deaths or injuries related to improperly secured guns. Current Utah law requires a concealed-carry permit applicant to go through a criminal background check and to receive firearms familiarity instruction on gun laws. It also requires a gun owner to demonstrate he or she can safely load and unload a firearm.
State lawmakers have made several attempts to enact so-called constitutional carry bills, but they’ve foundered because of opposition from former Gov. Gary Herbert. The measure’s prospects have improved significantly this year now that newly inaugurated Gov. Spencer Cox has signaled his support for it. Before passing the bill, House representatives altered HB60 to stipulate that excess dollars in the concealed-carry permit fund would support suicide prevention efforts focused on educating people about the safe storage of firearms. [full article]