SALT LAKE CITY – House Bill 76, the controversial “constitutional carry” gun bill, was vetoed by Gov. Gary Herbert Friday.
Herbert outlined his reasons for vetoing HB 76 in a letter sent to Utah House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart and Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser. In the letter, he wrote that, while the bill does not restrict a citizen’s constitutional right to bear arms, rather “it removes an existing provision of Utah law that those who carry a concealed weapon obtain a permit.”
The current form of Utah’s conceal carry system has existed for over 15 years, Herbert wrote, and in that time it “has become a national model.”
Herbert, who is a firearms owner and permit holder, said the conceal carry class helped individuals become educated concerning Utah’s conceal carry laws, understanding when circumstances allow a weapon to be used for self-defense, where a concealed weapon could and couldn’t be taken, and other aspects of Utah law and practice governing conceal carry.
“Both gun owners and the people of Utah benefit by having concealed firearms carriers receive and understand this information prior to receiving a permit,” Herbert wrote.
A permit may also be denied to certain individuals through a background check, the governor wrote. HB 76 would have allowed for anyone to conceal carry without first going through such a procedure.
“Utah has been, and will continue to be, well served by the screening function of its concealed firearm permit system,” he wrote.
Herbert also noted he had received dozens of letters from law enforcement agencies across the state opposing the bill. Similar letters have also been sent to the governor by Alliance for a Better Utah and Rev. John C. Wester, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.
Responses to veto
Maryann Martindale, executive director of Alliance for a Better Utah, a political watchdog group, issued a statement after learning of the veto.
“We applaud the Governor’s decision to uphold Utah’s reasonable concealed carry law by vetoing HB 76. Current concealed carry law ensures a minimum level of training and compliance with basic background checks – things favored by a majority of Utahns and at risk under HB 76,” she said.
“The governor did the right thing … We call on our legislators to exercise restraint and reason as they consider a possible override, and we call on the citizens of Utah to tell their legislators not to override the veto.”
Connor Boyack, president of the Libertas Institute, said in a tweet that, “HB 76 respects the individual right to bear arms, even as an incremental change. Permission slips should not be needed for protection.”
He also tweeted that the bill had been “positioned poorly as protecting open carriers who put on a jacket. It’s far more important and fundamental than that.”
Herbert’s letter addressed this concern that was part of the reasoning for HB 76. As Utah is an open carry state, people who do openly carry a gun may suddenly find themselves in temporary violation of the law if they put on a jacket. However, he did not find that a valid enough reason to discard current conceal carry laws.
There is the possibility the legislature may seek to overrule the veto, as it originally passed with a two-thirds majority in the state House and Senate.
If the veto is overruled, it will grant gun owners in Utah the right to conceal carry without a state-issued permit. However, a stipulation requires that no bullet be in the chamber of the firearm while being carried.
- Perspectives: HB76, Utah gun owners are being sold a lemon
- Constitutional Carry passes while anti-discrimination bill dies
- Editorial: Conceal Carry; it’s no small decision
- House Bill 76: Substitute Concealed Weapon Carry Amendments
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