Proposed bill would allow Utahns to carry concealed firearms without permit

ST. GEORGE — A bill that would allow individuals over the age of 21 to carry a concealed firearm without a permit in Utah has been reintroduced for the upcoming legislative session.

Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, speaks on the House floor of the Legislature, Salt Lake City, Feb. 14, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Legislature, St. George News

Rep. Walt Brooks, R-St. George, is sponsoring HB60, Conceal Carry Firearms Amendments, which is a reintroduction of legislation he sponsored last year. Brooks filed the bill late in the 2020 session with little likelihood of it passing at the time, yet said he wanted to“start building support” for the bill for when he planned to run it again in 2021.

The bill would remove the requirement for Utahns to get a permit to carry a concealed firearm. Utah law already allows people to open-carry firearms, Brooks said, which suddenly becomes illegal if someone puts that firearm under a jacket or in a purse. It largely comes down the responsibility and accountability of the individual, he said.

“We need to get back to trusting people, especially law-abiding citizens,” Brooks said Friday. “Just because you have a permit doesn’t mean you’re suddenly responsible and accountable in your actions.”

Doing away with the current conceal carry permit requirement isn’t going to be much of a big change for responsible gun owners, the legislator added, noting that anyone who runs afoul of the law will be dealt with accordingly whether or not they have a conceal carry permit.

Currently, 16 states allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit, though some states have certain limitations attached.

Stock image. Photo by by Brett Hondow from Pixabay, St. George News

In these states, Brooks said the data shows there hasn’t been much, if any, impact on crime due to lacking a conceal carry permit program. He also mentioned a 2019 study from the Journal of the American College of Surgeons regarding this matter. The study, which covered 30 years and focused on conceal carry laws, found “no statistically significant association between the liberalization of state level firearm carry legislation over the last 30 years and the rates of homicides or other violent crime.”

“I think the majority of people will look at the data and see this is a good, safe policy,” Brooks said, adding that the data has come a long way since former Gov. Gary Hebert vetoed a bill in 2013 that would have allowed Utahns to conceal carry firearms without a state-issued permit.

This was also a reason Brooks didn’t plan on his bill getting very far last year as Herbert was still in office. This year, however, Utah has a new governor whom Brooks said has a better understanding of guns and has said he supports Brooks’ legislation.

In this file photo, Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during a debate for Utah’s 2020 gubernatorial race in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 31, 2020 | File photo by Rick Bowmer, Associated Press, St. George News

“(Gov. Spencer Cox) has told me several times that he’s in favor of the bill,” Brooks said.

As reported by the Deseret News last week, Cox’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, told the paper that, “Both Gov.-elect Cox and Lt. Gov.-elect (Deidre) Henderson have said they would support a constitutional carry bill and look forward to working with the sponsors on the details.”

Among those details, Brooks noted, is that even if his bill goes through, Utah will still issue conceal carry permits to those who want them.

“We aren’t getting rid of the conceal carry permit,” he said. “It still has great value, especially if you travel outside of the state.”

There are several states that honor Utah’s conceal carry permit. Having one also makes purchasing a firearm easier as it helps cut down on background check fees, Brooks said.

As for training, an issue Brooks said has been repeatedly raised while pursuing his legislation, he said, “I don’t think the concealed weapons (permit) class gives you enough training to begin with.”

Getting adequate training is the responsibility of those who choose to own firearms, Brooks said.

The 2021 general session of the Utah Legislature begins Jan. 19 and runs through March 5.

For a complete list of contacts for Southern Utah representatives and senators, click here.

Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2021 Utah Legislature here.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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