Perspectives: HB 76, Utah gun owners are being sold a lemon

OPINION – Gun owners throughout Utah are feeling encouraged over the passage of House Bill 76, also known as the Constitutional Carry Bill, which decisively passed in both the houses of the state legislature. Governor Herbert now must choose whether to sign the bill into law, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

This bill would do away with the requirement for concealed firearm permits for law-abiding adults in Utah whether they choose to carry openly or concealed. But it differs from the same type of laws in Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming in that it requires that the firearm be technically unloaded; meaning at least two actions away from firing.

This requirement may seem like a trifling concession, but it effectively defeats the purpose of constitutional carry. And Utah gun owners would be wise to step back for a moment to consider some of its potential implications.

First and foremost, this requirement would increase, not reduce, the state’s power over gun owners. The state would still be imposing its subjective conditions on the exercise of what should be an unalienable right.

The beauty of the constitutional carry laws in these other states is that they treat the personal firearm, whether worn openly or concealed, as nothing more than a piece of lawfully owned private property. As long as the person isn’t committing a crime, there is no need for police to investigate them.

This allows police to stop worrying about the fact that someone is in possession of a firearm, and to instead focus on holding people accountable for actual criminal behavior that is causing harm.

Utah’s requirement that the firearm be legally unloaded creates a standard of compliance that invites greater — not less – police scrutiny of those who choose to carry.

If the more politicized police departments wish to discourage the carrying of personal firearms, all they need to do is stop every person who is carrying and check them for compliance. Those found carrying a loaded firearm without a permit could be considered criminals.

Far from restoring an unalienable right, the fatally flawed HB 76 strengthens the ongoing subjugation of gun owners who may only act with the state’s grudging permission.

This was not the intent of those state legislators who drafted and fought for this particular piece of legislation. Certain lawmakers, and the governor were the ones who pushed for the inclusion of the requirement that only those who hold a permit may carry a loaded firearm. This requirement was also supported by a number of concealed firearm permit trainers who view the permit system as their meal ticket.

In most political situations a degree of compromise is essential, lest the perfect become the enemy of the good. But any purported benefit to gun owners by HB 76 is negated by how it treats law abiding gun owners as mere subjects whose private property may only be possessed under conditions dictated by the state.

This is the type of scenario that Frederic Bastiat warned of in his essay “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen.” Most constitutional carry supporters are looking at the immediate visible effect without carefully considering the likely unforeseen consequences.

Bastiat quotes Chateaubriand as saying, “there are two consequences in history; an immediate one, which is instantly recognized, and one in the distance, which is not at first perceived. These consequences often contradict each other; the former are the results of our own limited wisdom, the latter, those of that wisdom which endures.”

The immediate effect of HB 76 is to create a degree of constitutional carry by allowing law abiding adults to legally carry openly or concealed with certain conditions attached. But the distant effects are those that we would be wise to consider. Could it cause more, rather than less, scrutiny of those who choose to carry a personal firearm? Does it still place the interests of the state above our inalienable right to self-defense?

Like a car buyer who, while filled with excitement, was pressured into signing on the dotted line and purchased a lemon, HB 76 may cause us serious buyer’s remorse down the road.

Instead of taking the crumbs that the state is currently willing to throw to us, gun owners would be better off to insist upon a constitutional carry law that more closely mirrors those of Arizona, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming.


Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • BJ March 21, 2013 at 8:44 am

    “. . .any purported benefit to gun owners by HB 76 is negated by how it treats law abiding gun owners as mere subjects whose private property may only be possessed under conditions dictated by the state.” This is no different for home owners—even if you “own” your home outright quit paying property tax and see how long you keep it. In America private property is a myth, the state controls everything.

  • Bill Jordan March 21, 2013 at 9:57 am

    There will always be unseen consequences to any law. So why not try the unloaded carry and revisit the bill after a year or so? Doesn’t it make more sense to revisit EVERY bill after a year to negate any unseen negative consequences?

  • jack m. March 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    What weapon or arm should a civilian not be allowed to own and why?

    • Cap'm March 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      “Allowed” by whom? You seem to have lost sight of the idea of liberty. Government exists only to help secure out life, liberty and property. Government is the servant, not the master. Why should we be photographed and fingerprinted like processing criminals in order to exercise a natural right which predates all governments? When the government incorrectly presumes to have the power to limit any natural right they act unlawfully and they must be replaced. Governor Herbert will not win the next election.

    • Cap'm March 22, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      The real question, when one studies the twentieth century, is why we allow governments to have weapons when they have always proven to be irresponsible with that power. Google “democide” then you must decide who is safer with weapons, your neighbor or government. The second amendment simply recognizes an antecedent right. So here is my question for you, jack, why do you fear liberty? Is it the comfort and security of your enslavement or a simpleminded ness which prevents independent thought and personal responsibility?

  • Mark Jensen March 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Years ago, my father had a heart attack, even though he had been actively watching his diet, and exercising as his doctor had recommended, for some time. The doctor told him it had taken years of neglecting his health to get in the condition that had motivated him to start taking better care of himself, and that those effects would take some time to undo.

    The state of our liberties today have been many decades in the eroding. It will take time to undo the damage done. Our monumental national debt will not be paid overnight. If we refuse to accept any incremental restoration of our liberties, insisting they all be restored at once, it will never happen.

    HB76, though not ideal, is indeed a step in the right direction.

  • Keep Our Freedom March 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    There is a reason its called “concealed”. If it’s concealed the police or anyone else are not going to see it and they wont “check on you” to make sure it is loaded or not.
    However, while some people will like this law and some will not. Legally obtaining a permit to carry loaded gun is a more viable option as other states will recognize the permit, and if one is ever in a situation where it is needed fast, it can be used efficiently.

  • Hatalii March 21, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Why do people want to carry a gun in the first place? Is it “to be cool?” Maybe it is to “be like my heroes on TV and in the movies?” Is it to project an “I am BAD” feeling to ones self?
    Or is for the very legitimate reason of self defense, when nothing else will work? If it is for any of the first silly reasons I listed here, then I guess “unloaded carry” is good enough.
    But if it is for the deadly serious business of defending yourself or someone else, carry the gun “unloaded” will give a false sense of security. And if you happen to go up against a bad guy who is experienced in firearms, the fact that you are carrying a gun that is “two actions away from firing,” simply means that the bad guy has you plain and simple. If you cannot do an instant “draw and fire” (and actually HIT what you are firing at,) you are better off without a weapon.
    This legislation is nothing more than the obvious pandering of politicians who are more interested in your vote, than in your safety. Don’t be fooled by it, because it is a dangerous bill that never should have been written, let alone passed to the governor for action. I do sincerely hope he kills it.

  • zacii March 21, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    This is just a feel-good law that does nothing to uninfringe the right to keep and bear arms.

    Additionally, it’s dangerous. Carrying an unloaded weapon is akin to handling a dull knife. Properly trained persons know that carrying in condition 1 is necessary to successfully survive in a lethal force encounter.

    This is a slap in the face to the principle of ‘Constitutional Carry’. It should be called Barney Fife Carry instead.

  • Curtis March 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    For the folks who like to call for for compromise by legislators on either side of an issue — this is what you get

  • jack m. March 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Mr Hyde are you scared to answer my simple question? What weapon or arm shouldn’t the public be allowed to have and why?

    • Bryan Hyde March 22, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      Another person’s private property is none of my concern. Criminal behavior is. Why don’t you tell us what people shouldn’t be allowed to own and why. I’d be interested to understand your reasoning.

      • jack m. March 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm

        But yet your all about the 2nd amendment and my question is regarding that yet you have no answer? Telling that you wanna preach but yet when prresented with a basic question you try to spin. Truth seeker my butt, a-clown is more like it! Just just like all the other blow hards that can’t answer a simple question!!!

        • Cap'm March 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm

          “Allowed” by whom? You seem to have lost sight of the idea of liberty. Government exists only to help secure our life, liberty and property. Government is the servant, not the master. Why should we be photographed and fingerprinted like processing criminals in order to exercise a natural right which predates all governments? When the government incorrectly presumes to have the power to limit any natural right they act unlawfully and they must be replaced. Governor Herbert will not win the next election.

        • Cap'm March 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm

          I will answer, no limit to what someone may own, as long as they harm no one else.

        • Bryan Hyde March 22, 2013 at 10:21 pm

          I’ve given you my answer. You just don’t want to hear it. The Second Amendment is not binding on the people, it restricts the federal government from interfering with our natural right to bear arms in defense of our lives. Instead of getting frustrated that I won’t engage in your word games, why not tell me where you’re coming from? I really would like to know.

          • jack m. March 23, 2013 at 7:35 am

            Once again the same spin. How is answer a simple question a word game? My question hasn’t and won’t change. You lack fortitude to answer, but I will give you the last response because people like you need to have it.

            Cap’m thanks for playing but I’m not the one who has lost sight. Do you drive with a license Cap’m? Why should you have to be photographed and take a test? Thanks for butting in and sharing your two cents!!

  • Travis March 22, 2013 at 11:17 am

    What is wrong with the current setup. If people want to conceal a gun they just need to get a permit. It’s not a big deal. The state requirement to take a basic class to give the basics on how to use a gun is, in my opinion, a great idea. Personally I think to carry a gun you should be required to pass off shooting skills at a range. I don’t think its a good idea to carry a gun if you have not had proper training on how to use a gun. I was surprised when I took the required CCW class at how many people had never shot a gun yet. Now these people can carry a gun and have never even shot one. When we get our drivers license we are required to take a written and driving test. I think the same thing should be for carrying a gun.

    • Big Don March 22, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      There isn’t anything wrong with the current set up. This is a hysterical, knee jerk bunch of folks in the legislature that are trying to sell Utah that they are accomplishing something. Glad the session is over before they could do even MORE damage. . .

  • Larson March 22, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    It looks like the spill-over from out-of-state continues.
    I have been semi-aware of HB76 and was disturbed that your friend and mine gov herbert did us another dis-service by vetoing the bill. It may have saved us from Utah to fight another day by NOT getting stopped to have our weapons checked. I was unaware of the “unloaded” provision and can only be thankful it was vetoed. (Thanks Bryan for your effort.)
    We need to get back to the legislators to insist this provision is taken out and sent through again.
    Anything that can be used to impede law-abiding citizens is not in the best interest of those who accept and believe in their God-given rights listed in the Bill of Rights.
    As to the question of why we need guns, how many and what kind? It is to have enough of the right kind to defeat the threat. (Side-note to the uninitiated: why were all the guns taken away from the people EVERY time people had guns and a country was about to be taken over by despots? Try Germany or even Venezuela of recent history. Any remaining gun-ownership is so restrictive it can hardly be called “ownership”. Can it happen to us? It has happened all through history and you would be an imbecile to think it couldn’t happen again. It is the real reason why the Founders put the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Psst: it wasn’t so we could only hunt. It was for self-preservation of EVERY type.

    • ken March 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Talk about imbecile, “God” hasn’t given you any rights whatsoever! Weak minded people believe in someone never seen ro heard from!!

      • Bryan Hyde March 23, 2013 at 6:24 am

        And with your bold pronouncement, the religious delusions of billions of people over thousands of years of human history are exposed as a fraud? Wow. With that kind of power at your disposal, you must feel…Godlike.

        • ken March 23, 2013 at 7:30 am

          Just like you and your asinine columns! I don’t claim anything except your weak minded.

  • Steamer March 23, 2013 at 8:00 am

    I guess I’d like to believe that Gov. Herbert vetoed the bill in a rare act of logic and reason but it’s more probable that he’s trying not to be overruled eventually by the federal government on gun controls. At least he’s trying not to add more to the list of “Utah Political Embarrassments” (i.e. Greg Bell, Sen. Lee, John Swallow, Sen. Hatch, FLDS mis-management and the Utah State Gun, the Browning M1911 automatic pistol, manufactured in Ogden).

  • Daniel March 27, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Here is an alternative view on HB 76 S1:

  • Daniel March 27, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    To the UT Gun Rights assessment I posted above, and which I hope people will read (there are links to other views as well at the end of it), I would add that the real question, in my mind, is the following: Does HB 76 S1 increase protections for gun owners?

    I think it is difficult to rationally argue that it does not. Currently, there exists a $583 recommended bail fee, plus “security surcharge,” court costs, and jail time for being arrested for carrying a “concealed dangerous weapon” — in either a loaded or “not loaded” condition. See page 73 of the following document:

    Would some police potentially harass you for carrying concealed under HB 76 S1? Sure. But where there is a clear and onerous statutory penalty now, there is now some level of protection under HB 76 S1.

    And if you still defy statute, and carry concealed and “loaded,” and are forced to engage in a firefight, you also have some level of protection. Unless a camera or witness is specifically focused and aimed at the drawing side of your torso, you could claim that, to the best of your knowledge, you chambered a round as you drew your weapon. The “not loaded” specification is difficult to prove after engagement. It is doubtful that the testimony of perpetrator would be believed over the defender.

    • Bryan Hyde March 28, 2013 at 7:19 am

      Daniel, you make excellent points. I tend to measure bills like HB 76 by whether they increase or decrease the power of the state over us. In this regard, I still believe that this bill falls short. If we can agree that it is a step in the right direction, can we also agree that such legislation is worth doing correctly? I’d wholeheartedly support a bill that mirrors those of Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, and Wyoming. It’s easier to pass a correct law than to uproot and fix a bad one.

  • SunnyInUtah March 28, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I carry a gun for my own protection and the protection of my family. I have it concealed (yes and loaded) and I take it everywhere I go. I have a permit that I also carry on me at all times. There are those that know that I have a gun but they have never seen it, they dont need to. If I were carrying it to feel powerful or to impress I would show people or I would open carry but I dont. Its not for show its for real and not something to take lightly.

  • David Busener April 1, 2013 at 3:15 am

    Even with this failure on the part of the Governor, Utah has led the way and been the example to the rest of the nation concerning ccw’s. For this reason, even with this setback by an uninformed and perhaps anti-2nd Amendment Governor, I am STILL very proud of Utah in so many ways. This will work itself out for the benefit of it’s People and Constitution. As always, we are all ready and wiling to roll up our sleeves and get to work and get it done. Personally, I have faith that the 2nd will be restored and supported to the ‘pre Ronald Reagan days’ , Reagan having been a wolf in sheep’s clothing doing great harm to this most important civil right. These things will work out, as states are so very much more responsive to the will of the people. The Representatives are also very will educated and hold high expectations for themselves, while at the same time support others where they may need help. This makes the state republic stronger and an example to the rest of the world. Thanks Utah, you’re an awesome state!

    Thanks, Dave Busener

    • My Evil Twin April 1, 2013 at 8:43 am

      Yes sir, and a happy April Fool’s Day to you too!:)

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